The court case brought by civil society organisations against the Minister of Police about the allocation of police resources has been delayed three months.
The matter follows the commission of inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha which found that fewer police resources are allocated to poor areas where crime levels are higher compared to wealthier areas.
The court case, brought by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Equal Education (EE) and Nyanga Community Policing Forum, was set to take place on 17, 21 and 22 August at the Equality Court. The organisations will be represented by the Legal Resources Centre.
According to the SJC, the postponement was requested by the South African Police Service (SAPS). But SAPS has denied this.
On 3 August, just two weeks ahead of the hearings, legal representatives met with the two judges overseeing the matter. It was agreed that the hearings will take place at the Western Cape High Court on 28, 29 and 30 November.
Athlenda Mathi, SAPS spokesperson, said: “The applicants in the case filed their heads of argument later than they were supposed to which resulted in the judges postponing the case.”
“This would allow the judges sufficient time to study the dockets submitted,” said Mathi.
But Chumile Sali, head of SJC’s safety and justice programme, said the police gave a different reason when they met at court. In a nutshell, one of their witnesses was away which has resulted in a late affidavit submission. Sali explained that Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi had on 23 April stated that the police would not be contesting the court case. This resulted in the SJC filing two days late while they confirmed whether Mkongi meant what he said (he apparently did not).
The Women’s Legal Centre, who were admitted as friends of the court, have also not yet filed heads of argument.
Sali said that the police’s legal team told the judges that they were not in a position to file arguments even if the postponement had not been granted. He said it was the third time the matter has been postponed.
In a statement, the SJC said “[T]he judges warned that they did not want to postpone the matter … The Court was very serious about the fact that this matter relates to communities that cannot be put in a position to lose faith in the court systems.”
The SJC said that the SAPS-caused delay was “discriminating against black communities”.
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