News : Pranksters Warned their Calls will be Traced and They’ll Face Prosecution
Cape Town, South Africa, June 17, 2016 -- Pranksters abusing the City’s public emergency communication centre service have been warned they would be tracked down and prosecuted.
Of the 532 682 calls emergency operators received for the whole of last year 102 217, or 20 percent, were prank calls.
This meant an average of around 8 500 prank calls a month, or 280 prank calls a day were received.
Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, said the calls ranged from hoaxes to those of a perverse nature.
"The calls range from emergency hoaxes to the vilest verbal abuse, but also, more disturbingly, calls of a very perverse nature.
"It is unacceptable that our operators who are there to do a very serious job have to endure this type of abuse with no recourse except to cut the call. It is also very unfair and potentially life-threatening to people with real emergencies who cannot get through or who are kept waiting because pranksters are clogging the lines," said Smith.
Several recorded calls were sent to the Cape Times.
In one of them a child reports a fake fire at a mall in Somerset West, while another proceeds to blurt several profanities at the operator before hanging up. Another person, who had allegedly called the service a number of times, said he was deported from the US and claims the Department of Correctional Services of trying to track him down. He ends the call before the operator can ask him further questions.
At the end of every call, before the pranksters hang up, operators are heard having to ask the public not to phone if it is not an emergency.
Smith said the City was preparing to track down and prosecute prank callers.
"Our system allows us to pick up exactly where the call is coming from, but it’s tricky when the perpetrator is using a public telephone. However, many abusive calls come from landlines and cellphones.
"I have instructed the City’s Special Investigations Unit to extract information on the top 10 habitual offenders and lay charges in terms of national legislation that makes such prank and hoax calls to an emergency call centre an offence.
Provincial emergency numbers include the City’s 107 public emergency number, 10111 for the police’s visible policing division, Crime Stop at 08600 10111 and 10177 for an ambulance.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, June 20, 2016