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The Potential Of Drones In South African Security

Security in South Africa is entering a new frontier. With exciting new drone technology constantly being developed, it’s obvious that South Africa would want to get in on the Action.

The True Capabilities of Drones

It’s no mystery why SA wants to use drones more frequently. Drones can make finding criminals earlier and easier by being thermally equipped to see at night and being visible in the sky only when required. Not to mention its 2000+ km range and 35-hour battery life which it can use to patrol vulnerable routes tirelessly.

A drone benefit that often gets overlooked is the increased safety drone intel brings to security on the ground. For example, when a security team responds to an alarm trip, they have virtually no idea where the criminals could be on the site, how many of them there are, and how armed they may be. With eyes in the sky, all of these variables become much less unclear, allowing security personnel to deal with the situation more wisely.

Cape Town’s Drone Wishes

The city of Cape Town has expressed great interest in drones, investing hundreds of millions of rands into new drone and dashcam technology.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Gwyn Hill-Lewis has publicly asked the SA government for more police resources and power, said police resources including the most modern safety technology available (Drone Technology).

So far the SA government has yet to carry out these appeals, which isn’t too surprising with our government’s track record with speed. (A visit to Home Affairs will tell you all you need to know.)

Drone Regulations And Restrictions

Both businesses and recreational flyers need to know and understand drone laws to avoid fines and even imprisonment.

While some of these laws are common sense such as not flying close to an airport (within 10km) or near people and private property (within 50m), there are also more obscure laws like not being able to sell or use drone footage commercially without permission from the SACAA ( SA Civil Aviation Authority) and not being able to fly drones at night, which seems to directly conflict with police/security drones which continue to operate after sundown. Perhaps the official drone laws should be more clear in outlining what drone laws apply to who.

It’s not surprising that drone laws can be slightly vague, they were only conceived in 2014-2015, before drone technology in general was widely available.

Another rule indicates that drone operators should keep their drone in line of sight at all times, which may seem like an obvious rule until you consider that many drone pilots use VR Headsets to better navigate obstacles, which begs the question: if drone operators are seeing through the drones, does it still count as being within their own vision?

Penalties for flying drones near airports and military bases can be severe, as the potential consequences of causing a plane or jet to crash are even more so. These penalties range from a R3500 fine to 10 YEARS JAIL TIME (this depends on the amount of damage or distraction the drone causes)


Drones have the potential to transform the SA Security industry for the better, and the City of Cape Town knows it and is investing in the industry accordingly. Though a portion of that investment money may go to paying off drone fines due to the strict laws and regulations

Written by Tyler D’Aquino

Featured Image: Adobe Stock Images