Gunshot detector right on target with first conviction

21 June 2018 - 08:06 By Dave Chambers
Virgil Koopman captured on CCTV brandishing a pistol in Manenberg.
Virgil Koopman captured on CCTV brandishing a pistol in Manenberg.
Image: City of Cape Town

For the first time‚ a gunman has been convicted with the help of technology that detects gunfire.

JP Smith‚ the City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security‚ said evidence from the ShotSpotter system was part of the case against Virgil Koopman.

Koopman was convicted at Wynberg Regional Court of discharging a firearm in a municipal area and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment‚ suspended for five years.

ShotSpotter detected gunfire in Manenberg in October 2017. The city council strategic surveillance unit supplied the police with CCTV footage of the incident as well as the ShotSpotter alert‚ said Smith.

“This is evidence of what is possible when the various enforcement agencies collaborate in the fight against crime‚” he said.

“We also commend the persistence and dedication of the investigating officer and his team in this case‚ and we look forward to more convictions‚ with the assistance of the technology that we have at our disposal.”

In April 2016‚ the city council agreed to spend R21-million rolling out ShotSpotter in Hanover Park and Manenberg. The technology can pinpoint the location of a shooting‚ instantaneously directing police to the attacker‚ victims and witnesses.

At the time‚ Smith said: “It’s a game changer. Our recovery rate of firearms increased by a factor of five when it was tested.”

ShotSpotter has also been installed in Port Elizabeth.