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Activists take police minister to court

Demand equitable allocation of resources between rich and poor areas

Photo of two activists at a press conference
Social Justice Coalition’s Phumeza Mlungwana and Chumile Sali at a press conference in Khayelitsha announcing that they are taking the national police minister to court. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana
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Today, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) together with Equal Education (EE) will file an application with the Western Cape High Court to compel police minister Nathi Nhleko and acting national police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane to find a way to allocate police resources in a more equitable manner.

A press conference announcing the action was held in Khayelitsha on an open field in Makhaza, the same field that back in 2004 was proposed as the site on which to build the Makhaza Police Station.

SJC general secretary Phumeza Mlungwana said, “The first thing we must highlight is that we are Khayelitsha residents. We work in Khayelitsha, we stay in Khayelitsha, we speak about our lived experiences. People get raped and killed everyday. There is xenophobic violence and that is where we’re coming from.”

Mlungwana said “the same methods that were used to allocate resources in the apartheid government are [still] being used”. As a consequence, poor communities, like Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Kraaifontein and Delft “will always experience a high rate of crime”.

It is now two years after the commission of inquiry (COI) into policing in Khayelitsha and the allocating of resources remains the same, said Mlungwana.

“As a last resort we are going to court,” she said. “We’ve tried to engage; we’ve written letters; we’ve protested; we’ve had meetings with the state and police, and clearly they are not in the position where they want to review the matter.”

Bayanda Mazwi, former deputy chairperson of EE, said, “This issue is bigger than the people of Khayelitsha as it speaks to the heart of townships and rural areas across South Africa. The current allocation of police officers perpetuates the ideologies of the apartheid system where only a few benefitted from the state’s resources and this ideology needs to be dismantled. Currently, the minority is benefitting from the state’s resources more than the majority and the majority are people from townships and rural areas.”

In 2014, the commission said Nhleko should take steps to revise how human resources are allocated by the police; to make allocation process publicly available; to remedy “as a matter of urgency” the discriminatory allocation of resources within the Western Cape.

The commission further recommended that provincial commissioners have the power and the obligation to deviate from the way human resources are allocated nationally in order to provide a fair and equitable distribution of police resources.

According to Mlungwana, Makhaza falls under the Harare precinct and is the least resourced for police even though it has the highest rate of murders on Khayelitsha.

Mlungwana said in their testimony, police detectives testified that they are allocated 158 dockets per detective, when even 50 dockets was too much for one officer.

SJC head of safety and justice programme Chumile Sali said, “We have exhausted all avenues. It’s now time to take the matter up to the Western Cape High Court to deal with this issue.”

On 10 March, GroundUp asked Musa Zondi, spokesperson for the Minister of Police about progress in implementing the recommendations of the COI on the issue of staff allocation, and specifically about making the resource allocation model public. Zondi referred GroundUp to the provincial office. A query to the provincial commissioner in the Western Cape was acknowledged by Lieutenant Colonel Oransie in the Commissioner’s office on 22 March but there has been no further response.

 

Topics:  KHAYELITSHA COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO POLICING  |  POLICING

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