The City of Joburg vs Vumacam (and the public)

CIVH QUESTION AND ANSWER DOCUMENT.

  1. Q: Comment on the Forensic Investigation into CIVH’s Fibrehoods/Vumatel contract in the Metropolitan City of Johannesburg

A: The City of Johannesburg released a defamatory media statement in February 2018 making several allegations that implicated Fibrehoods, as well as Altivex. As a result, Fibrehoods responded to the City and proactively approached the Cities Group Forensics Department to address factual inaccuracies contained in the media statement.

We provided all documentation to the investigators. The final investigation report by the City was concluded in April 2018, however we approached the City to determine the outcome of the investigation to no avail. Fiberhood/Vumacam had to apply via a Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to get a copy of the report and its findings. The findings of the report stated that “the affidavit submitted by MMC Knott does not contain issues which warrants a forensic investigation by Group Forensic Investigation Service (GFIS) but mainly raises issues of contractual management and lack of competition in the network industry”.

The recommendations based on the findings of the forensic investigation is that the case be regarded as closed on the Case Management System pending new evidence that might indicate elements of fraud or corruption.

It should be noted that we obtained legal opinion advising us that we have a strong case for a defamation case against Cllr Knotts but, chose not to pursue that avenue and rather sought to build relations with the City.

  1. Q: The irregular nature and secretive cessation of Altivex 705 rights and contracts to CIVH’s Fibrehoods/Vumatel

A: Despite the assertions in the now discredited City of Johannesburg Media statement, Altivex did not “cede” any rights to Fibrehoods, rather Altivex, as Johannesburg Property Company managing agent collected rental fees from Fibrehoods in line with their mandate.

Altivex did not relinquish any of the rights granted to it in terms of the Appointment Agreement with the City.

  1. Q: The Public Statement of CIVH’s Vumacam of trading electricity away from City Power and Eskom

Vumacam has obtained legal opinion that suggests that the City’s assertion that connecting its infrastructure to the power supply of the nearest house would not be considered an illegal connection. Notwithstanding this, Vumacam has been in discussion with the City to rather make these connections via their preferred method whereby each pole would have its own connection to the grid. Vumacam is completely open to this, however, the City proposes a connection fee of between R34 000. 00 and R68 000 per connection, per pole. We feel this is unreasonable, particularly when you consider the connection fee for a traffic light is only R8000 per connection. We are more than willing to pay a competitive price to connect every one of our poles to the City of Johannesburg’s grid.

  1. Q: Vumacam’s avoidance of VAT on legitimate power connections with tan estimated loss of R180 million in revenue to City Power and R27 million to SARS

A: As already stated we are more than willing to connect to the City of Johannesburg Grid for a fair and competitive price, and as such we are in talks with the City to resolve the impasse.

  1. Q: The avoidance of paying VAT on the connection fees payable, illegal connections and other transactional fees that generate taxes on their projects.

A: This has already been dealt with.

  1. Q: The mass Surveillance in Public spaces via 15 000 AI and ANPR cameras across 600sqkm of CoJ, thus contravening Section 14 of the Constitution residents (private citizens) deemed illegal by Public Safety, and possibly contravening Security Agency regulations of a parallel state.

A: We are unaware of any investigation that has deemed the monitoring of public spaces by the Vumacam network as illegal. As Vumacam we understand the serious concerns of citizens as it relates to privacy and we respect the rights of citizens to privacy. We do not invade anyone’s private space or property.

As stated in Section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, “the right to privacy, including protection against search and seizure, and the privacy of correspondence.” Section 14 of the Constitution is not in any way violated by Vumacam’s presence in public spaces.

At Vumacam we believe you should be concerned about data privacy. It is for this reason that all our clients go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that they are using the data for the right reasons and that they adhere to the strictest data protection protocols. We have partnered with the best in the world to ensure that data is protected. We are not only compliant in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act, but we have taken it a step further to go beyond the global standards of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  1. Q: The inherent racial bias of the Vumatel/Vumacam programming in their iSentry software.

A: The iSentry system is completely non-bias. It is not pre-programmed to identify race. Unlike many other behavioural analytics software iSentry is one of only a few that do not have any preprograming of what is deemed to be unusual behaviour thus removing any forms of programmed in bias.

It utilises deep learning machine technology to monitor pixels, so if it detects unusual formations of pixels, that are different to what it monitors 24/7 it will send an alert to the security company control room where the company can monitor the situation to determine if it requires intervention.

The alerts could be triggered, for example, if someone trips over as they walk, or someone being attacked and mugged in the street. Both incidents will send an alert. The one can be looked at by the security company and either be dismissed or monitored to determine if medical attention is required while the other can trigger further actions to apprehend a criminal.

The software minimizes human participation in the monitoring process, and therefore minimizes human bias such as race.

We have on numerous occasions invited Mr Borrageiro to come and see the system for himself, he has declined to do so.

  1. Q: The Lawfare approach by CIVH Vumatel/ Vumacam entity as a form of bullying and intimidation.

A: Vumacam just like any other entity or person is bound by the conscripts of the law. Vumacam where it deems necessary, when other avenues of engagement have failed, has every right to approach the courts to seek reprieve where necessary and to protect its reputation when being slandered.

We have in some instances chosen not to go the legal route when legal opinions have advised us that we would have a strong case, in favour of pursing a relationship building approach. Any legal action we do embark on we deem as necessary to perform our work and cannot be considered lawfare.


4 February 2020

The City Manager

City of Johannesburg

Re: Illegal Installation of Aerial fibre, poles and CCTV cameras in Ward 97 by Vumatel/ Fibrehoods

As has previously been brought to your attention Vumatel, which absorbed Fibrehoods, and Vumacam have illegally installed aerial fibre along with wooden poles as well as steel pole structures for CCTV cameras and third party advertising across the City. In February 2018 the Executive Mayor at the time, Cllr Herman Mashaba, gave an instruction for the Altivex contract to be placed on review as they had a) breached the terms of their contract without remedy; and b) the sub-contract with Fibrehoods was contrary to Council policy. This has since failed to transpire.

Such installations have occurred in Ward 97 without any regard to due process and in violation of the City’s bylaws. When we raise queries with the depot we are told that they cannot provide clarity as they don’t agree with the installations but have been ordered by their head office to approve them. The core issues are as follows:

  • Lack of proper and meaningful public participation as required by the Constitution. The only bodies consulted were residents associations, which don’t exist in many areas, community policing forums and security companies, none of which have the numbers or authority to act on behalf of all residents.

  • Lack of compliance with supply chain management processes via an unsolicited bid in so far as they are piggy backing off a cell mast contract which is unrelated to their activities and are indulging in third party advertising with no contract in place with the City nor is there a payment plan for use of city power infrastructure or public space.

  • Stifling of competition within an already struggling economy in contravention of Competition Laws.

  • Contravention of the Public Roads and Miscellaneous Bylaw of 2004 in terms of illegal pole installations and wires crossing roads.

  • Misleading of residents that a contract exists with SAPS and JMPD with the latter having control of the cameras via the IIOC centre, which is not the case.

  • Private control of state security with no oversight capability.

  • Infringement of residents’ constitutional right to freedom and security, privacy, freedom of movement, environment and access to information.

I have attached a brief summary of events for your convenience, this list is not exhaustive but if you require further information I am happy to supply same. Whilst I support any interventions that serve to increase the safety and security of residents I cannot in good conscience do so where this is not done in line with relevant legislation and where residents are being blatantly mislead as to the benefits of this particular system.

I hereby request that you supply urgent feedback within 14 days of this letter detailing the progress on this matter, including the status of the CCTV policy, the status of the forensic investigation instituted by Hogan Lovells in November 2018 and the subsequent action to be taken against this flagrant abuse of our laws.

Yours faithfully

Leah Knott (nee Potgieter)

Councillor: Ward 97

City of Johannesburg


ANNEXURE A

In 2015 City Power advised stakeholders with “for profit” companies wanting to install fibre on city street light poles which are located on city owned land (namely the road reserve) had to be dealt with via supply chain processes, namely a Regulation 32. Several other service providers were refused access to city property for fibre installation, such as Dimension Data and Link Africa.

In 2017 City Power requested that JPC terminate the Altivex agreement as their sub-contract with Fibrehoods was irregular. They also issued correspondence stating the letter written by Isaac Dube, Acting Manager Intelligence and Compliance, granting CSS tactical permission to use the street light poles was invalid as he had exceeded his authority (this permission was ceded by CSS to Fibrehoods).

In 2017 JPC confirmed that a letter issued by Sipho Mbethe, head of outdoor advertising, on 1 February 2017 giving Fibrehoods permission to erect fibre on city property had lacked the requisite authority, was not valid and the official had been disciplined. They confirmed the fibrehoods agreement with Altivex was irregular.

In April 2017 I queried the blanket wayleaves being issued to Fibrehoods with no proper agreements in place for installation of fibre nor public consultation and which was in contravention to competition laws.

In July 2017 JRA suspended the application of wayleaves to Fibrehoods based on contravention of the Public Roads and Miscellaneous Bylaw of 2004 whereby “no person may place any rope, wire or pole on, under or across any public road, or hang, or place anything whatsoever thereon, without the prior written permission of the Council. Fibrehoods then issued legal correspondence to JRA threatening officials in their personal capacity and certain officials went over the MD’s head and instructed JRA depots to immediately issue all requested wayleaves.

In 2018 a forensic investigation was implemented by Hogan Lovells – outcome outstanding.

Fibrehoods, which was later absorbed by Vumatel, and Vumacam did not hold proper public participation/ consultation and despite JRA requiring this as well as a letter from the Councillor for wayleave approval, they still issued wayleaves without question or proper contracts being in place and despite advising Councillors in writing that they were not approving such wayleaves. It transpired that JRA were acting at the instruction of Bongani Mhlotshane from JRA who was scared of being sued for not approving wayleaves.

City Parks has also since issued contravention notices to Vumacam as well for the illegal removal and cutting of trees throughout the City in order to make place for their CCTV poles.

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