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Demand for more police for country’s murder capital

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Nyanga Community Police Forum applies to join Equality Court case

Photo of protesters outside High Court
Protesters outside the Western Cape High Court during the hearings on an Equality Court application for better allocation of police resources. Photo: David Doochin
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A group of protesters organised today outside the Western Cape High Court during proceedings on police allocation of resources.

In the courtroom, the Nyanga Community Police Forum, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, defended its application to intervene in an Equality Court case seeking fair police resource allocation, brought by the Social Justice Coalition and Equal Education in March. The South African Police Service opposes the application for intervention.

Members of the group sang and chanted outside the steps of the court.

In the group were members of the Social Justice Coalition, Equal Education, and the Nyanga CPF, who held signs reading ‘CPFs are community representatives elected by the people’ and ‘Review police resourcing now!’

Nyanga has the highest number of murders of any police precinct in the country: 279 in 2016.

According to a statement from SJC, EE, and Nyanga CPF released on Monday, the Nyanga CPF, in failing to reach a cooperation with SAPS, “has been left with no other course of action” but to organise outside the court.

The statement says Nyanga is rife with crime and has had the highest number of murders in the country for the last six years and significantly high rates of assault and robbery. Despite these realities, the Nyanga police precinct is one of the least well-resourced in the Western Cape.

“It is unconscionable that communities are still battling to receive the necessary resources to implement the [Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry’s] recommendations,” the statement said.

“The Nyanga CPF, the SJC and EE demand a professional and efficient police service with a just and fair allocation of police resources.”

In today’s hearing, Peter Hathorn, advocate for the Nyanga CPF, argued that the CPF should be allowed to intervene in the case because it represents the community and exists to protect its rights.

“This situation is impacting the constitutional rights of the residents of Nyanga.”

The legal advocate for SAPS, Renata Williams, said the Community Police Forum as an organ of state should not be able to challenge SAPS, another organ of state.

“It’s in a situation conflict. You can’t have the CPF, which comprises a station commander, who’s completely left out when the resolution is stated, fighting the SAPS,” she said in the hearing. “Because that’s in reality what will happen should this application submission be granted.”

She said there was no support for the idea that resource allocation in Nyanga violated the Equality Act.

“Nowhere is a case made out that Nyanga is under-resourced on the basis of racial discrimination,” she said. The Nyanga CPF would have to make a case that police resources were distributed on a racially unfair basis, Williams said.

Martin Makasi, the chairperson of the Nyanga CPF, said the core issue was Nyanga’s lack of police resources, an issue raised with SAPS many times to no avail.

“We’ve got documents that can prove that there have been numerous meetings where we’ve been saying to SAPS: ‘The challenge in Nyanga is that the police station is under-resourced,’” he said.

“I think SAPS is missing the point completely. We are not really basing our argument on our numbers in terms of the stats. We’re basing our argument on the fact that the police station is under-resourced. From the establishment of our police station, it was never resourced properly.”

Sifiso Zitwana, a representative from the SJC, said the CPF was very attuned to the needs of the communities and deserved to be an applicant in the Equality Court.

The court said a decision on the application would be issued by Friday morning.

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