Vumacam accuses JRA of ignoring CCTV court order
Video management company Vumacam has filed an urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court seeking a contempt order against the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), alleging it failed to comply with an earlier court order.
Judge Bashir Vally ruled against the agency on 20 August, saying the decision by the JRA to suspend the consideration of aerial and CCTV wayleave applications was unlawful and invalid.
In terms of the order, the JRA was required to issue Vumacam with a decision in respect of outstanding wayleave applications within seven days of the order, which lapsed on 31 August.
Following the agency’s failure to comply within the stipulated seven days prescribed by the court, the JRA then informed Vumacam of its intention to apply for leave to appeal but failed to file the requisite notice, argues the video management company.
Vumacam says it served and filed its contempt of court application on 4 September and the JRA only delivered its notice of application for leave to appeal on Sunday, 6 September – the day before its notice of opposition in the contempt application was due.
Ricky Croock, Vumacam CEO, explains: “The JRA’s failure to abide by a court order issued on 20 August to meet court-mandated deadlines, or its duty outlined by municipal by-laws, shows a very concerning disregard for the law and prevents us from installing technology that prevents crime. It is unthinkable that we have to again ask the court to ensure that the JRA simply abide by the law and the court's unambiguous orders.
“The court has indicated that it wishes to hear the JRA's application for leave to appeal as soon as practicable – the date for the hearing has now been set for 28 September. We believe that the grounds relied upon by the JRA in its application for leave to appeal are misguided and raise no issues which were not adequately addressed in the earlier court order.”
Vumacam says it complies with all applicable by-laws and privacy laws, and believes the JRA is implementing delaying tactics intended to further frustrate its business operations.
“This unfairly prejudices and prevents Vumacam from meeting its commitments to install crime-curbing technology in new areas,” says Croock.
In its application for leave to appeal, the JRA cites concerns over privacy as the reason for its failure to grant wayleaves to Vumacam.
The JRA insists the purpose of Vumacam’s operations “is to spy on the movements of unsuspecting citizens” and that Vumacam collects and processes personal data.
Vumacam has continuously denied this, with Croock saying the application for leave to appeal is “riddled with factual inaccuracies regarding Vumacam's operations”.
He adds: “The JRA also asserts, absurdly in our view, that wayleaves may only be granted when Vumacam adheres to the very processes already followed rigorously by Vumacam.
“Where the JRA raises concern that by-laws do not yet create specific guidance for CCTV privacy and data management, there are national laws regarding privacy and data management that govern our operations and we don’t only abide by them, we exceed what they require.
“Of greater concern is the JRA’s tendency to state false information as fact. While we fail to understand the JRA's reasoning behind its appeal, we now have to take steps to ensure the JRA does not cause irreparable harm to Vumacam, or impact residents’ constitutional rights to safety, through their actions that directly contradict the law and the High Court’s order.”