22 August 2012
Civil society organisations have welcomed the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.
The announcement was made earlier today by Premier Helen Zille. It comes after the organisations submitted a legal complaint to Zille’s office in November 2011, demanding the inquiry.
“The complaint alleged that there was systemic failure by the [South African Police Services] (SAPS) in Khayelitsha to prevent, combat and investigate crime, take statements, open cases and apprehend criminals, resulting in a breakdown in relations between the community and the police. The decision to appoint a commission of inquiry has been taken after a protracted period of communication between me and both the stakeholders and the SAPS, and after obtaining legal advice,” said Zille.
The Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Equal Education (EE) and Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) were some of the organisations that attended the press conference.
SJC’s senior researcher Joel Bregman said it was an important day for all organisations and the announcement was a step in the right direction.
“This is not to say that all the problems will now be fixed because we still need to establish what is wrong and how bad it is. But the appointment of an inquiry will give the Khayelitsha community a voice, it gives them a platform. All in all we are happy with this and the commissioners that have been appointed as well,” said Bregman.
Former Constitutional Court Judge, Catherine O’Regan, and former NPA Head, Advocate Vusi Pikoli, were appointed as commissioners. Advocate Nazreen Bawa and Advocate Thembalihle Sidaki have been appointed to assist with evidence gathering. The secretary of the commission will be Amanda Dissel.
“The commission will be based here in Cape Town but I am not sure yet where the offices will be. The budget will depend on how long the commission sits but there is a R5 million allocation,” said Zille.
Precillar Moyo, an EE member said they were relieved by the announcement because the violence in Khayelitsha affected everyone including children who were scared to go to school because of gang violence.
NU’s Zackie Achmat said they welcomed the inquiry, as the struggle had been going on since 2003. “It is not the last six months; it has been two and half years we have been engaging with national government.” Achmat said they also wanted the co-operation of the National Prosecuting Authority and the national services. “We want all grievances to be treated with the same high priority, whether it is a person being mugged while walking to the toilet or a complaint about the fixing of roads. They should go hand in hand,” he said.
Zille said, “Once the commission is sitting, they can take any allegations. I have received complaints from other places not just Khayelitsha, I am not singling out any place. But we must understand that we cannot make allegations without detail. I need details to follow up on a matter.”
She continued, “It is clear to me that decisive action must be taken to address the numerous complaints, some of which now date back nine months, alleging police inefficiency and a breakdown in relations between the Khayelitsha community and SAPS. I have therefore decided to accede to the complainants’ request.”
Civil Society Organisations Press release.
The Premier’s media release on the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha.