As the use of CCTV in South Africa grows, companies are faced with difficult choices in terms of what they can and cannot legally do with their cameras and the footage they take. When is your footage admissible in court, when will it be deemed illegal?
There are regulations offering clear guidelines to the use of CCTV in other countries making it easier to set up and maintain a legally admissible surveillance system. Unfortunately, there are no similar guidelines in South Africa.
This news24.com article from 2015 outlines:
“Police and the City of Cape Town are teaming up to enforce a bylaw passed last year. They are issuing notices to residents who use CCTV cameras to register their cameras with the police.
Although the use of cameras for safety purposes are supported, the law enforcement structures want to reduce the illegal use of CCTV cameras that infringe on basic rights. He is referring to the use of cameras to see who is approaching their homes and specifically where illegal activities are taking place.
“A notice is only served when these cameras are on City property or infrastructure, for example electricity poles, or when they monitor a public area. However, residents are still required to register their cameras.”
Security is always a concern in South Africa. Your business might be in a dangerous area. You might work with expensive materials. Or maybe CCTV cameras just lower your business insurance premiums. Whatever your situation, you must comply with this act or face the full might of the law.
CCTV cameras are everywhere. The sight of a CCTV camera can make you a bit uneasy. It might make you feel like someone is watching you… like a criminal. You might even feel a little violated by the camera’s presence.
But cameras give business owners a sense of security. You know for sure that if something goes wrong, those cameras will record it. They give you the evidence to prosecute criminals.
If you have CCTV cameras, you MUST comply with the Privacy Act. If you don’t comply, the court won’t accept CCTV footage as evidence!
The Privacy Act protects the rights of your staff and visitors. It says you must tell your employees and visitors that you have these cameras installed.
You have a legal obligation to protect the privacy and dignity of your staff and anyone who’s on your premises, whether it be suppliers, clients or the general public.
You also can’t put security cameras in private areas like locker rooms, toilets and change cubicles.
You must put up a sign that says “These premises are protected by CCTV” or similar if you use security cameras. You’ll find that the mere presence of the cameras will lower incidences of theft or misbehaviour as people’s ‘internal watchdog’ kicks in when they think you are observing them closely.