22 January 2014
It was a scorching hot day in Khayelitsha today, as the Commission of Inquiry into policing, led by Justice Kate O’Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, got underway.
The day was spent inspecting the township’s three police stations and a high crime area.
In attendance were the Commission staff and the legal teams for the complainants, SAPS and the City. Members of various NGOs including the Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign and Ndifuna Ukwazi were also there, as well as a few journalists.
The inspections of the police stations, Lingeletu-West, Harare and Khayelitsha, were thorough. Each one took roughly three hours. Many aspects of policing and the police stations were inspected including holding cells, the filing of dockets, record-keeping and vehicles.
The mood was mostly relaxed and jovial. Representatives for both complainants and defendants chatted casually as the inspections continued throughout the day. Justice O’Regan led the questioning of the police officers. Advocate Pikoli appeared pensive. He spent much of the time watching and listening, occasionally asking probing questions.
At Harare Police Station, Justice O’Regan asked specific questions about the logistics and challenges of policing. She and Advocate Pikoli asked about the maintenance of police vehicles, and whether the officers being deployed were short on vehicles. The officers answering their questions were mostly calm and open but some questions left them flustered.
The inspections finished early and the Commission moved to an identified hotspot in TR Section. The entourage walked — with SAPS officers standing guard — from TR Section, past Nolungile Train Station to Site C Taxi Rank. The SJC’s Welcome Makele led the Commission, explaining the incidents of crime he had seen and the vigilante ‘bundu courts’ that had sprung up.