On Monday, 12 May 2014, the second phase of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry began. The second phase sees a number of experts in their relevant fields appearing before the Commission to provide expert evidence and recommendations.
First to appear was Ms Jean Redpath, a researcher at the University of the Western Cape’s Community Law Centre, who gave insight into the unequal and unfair allocation of resources to police stations in Khayelitsha. Noting the discrepancies in the irrational distribution of resources, Redpath emphatically stated that the allocation of police personnel in certain areas is not constitutionally justifiable. According to Redpath’s calculations, hundreds more police would need to be allocated to the police stations in Khayelitsha to ensure a more just distribution of police personnel. Former Constitutional Court judge, Justice Kate O’Regan, who is co-chairing the Inquiry, commented that the list of the most resource-stricken police stations looked similar to “an apartheid list” as it consisted entirely of working-class and poor “Coloured or black” areas. Justice O’Regan asked how it was that such inequality had continued 20 years into our democracy, and suggested that the system designed to oversee resource allocation “is ineffective”. It is no surprise that the current lack of resourcing is a huge factor on the burden of policing in the area. Importantly, it was noted that one cannot look at human resourcing alone and that resourcing in general – including office space, vehicles and equipment – would need to be addressed.
Ms Joy Fish and Mr Johan Schlebush, experienced human resources practitioners with over 60 years of experience between them, were next to appear before the Commission. They advocated for the conception of a clear vision for policing in Khayelitsha over the next 3-5 years. The gap between the vision and the current reality should then form a set of prioritised goals with measurable outcomes. Fish and Schlebush also highlighted the issue of work overload and its impact on the disciplinary system. Achievable targets need to be set for each detective and where they are still unable to manage their matters efficiently, possible negligence needs to be investigated.
Thys Gilliomee, the Chief Executive Officer of the Western Cape Liquor Authority explained the regulation of the liquor industry in the Western Cape. He informed the Commission that there are an estimated 35 legal liquor outlets in Khayelitsha but was unable to provide an estimate of the number of illegal outlets. From earlier evidence given in this Commission, it is believed that there is in the region of 1400 unlicensed liquor outlets in Khayelitsha. It is unfortunate that Gilliomee missed an opportunity to address the social ills related to alcohol abuse and was unable to account for the relationship between unlicensed liquor outlets, abuse of alcohol and the high crime rates related to alcohol abuse. It is estimated that up to 65% of murders in South Africa are related to the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Dr Johan Burger was the final expert to appear before the Commission on Monday. Dr Burger is a senior researcher at the Institute for Social Studies in Pretoria, in the Governance, Crime and Justice Division. Dr Burger also served in the SAPS (and its predecessor) between 1968 and 2004. Dr Burger provided the Commission with an informative presentation on community policing. He noted that as far back as 1997 there was recognition that Community Policing Forums (CPFs) were not working. While CPFs are supposed to monitor and work in partnership with SAPS, it was highlighted that this is a tense relationship and often results in a trade-off. Members of CPFs, and especially chairpersons of such forums, through close associations with SAPS, lose sight of their independence and oversight function, to the extent that they effectively become part of the police management and tend to neglect their duty to hold the police to account. This is evidenced by CPF chairpersons favouring and defending the police when complaints are made about the police service by community members. Remarkably, Adv. Masuku (on behalf of the SAPS) conceded that certain CPF chairpersons, who have given evidence before this Commission, fall within Dr Bruger’s description of the blurred relationship that exists between CPFs and the police.
The Commission was informed that the Civilian Secretariat is currently working on a policy paper for Community Safety Forums (CSFs) which will provide a more practical approach to community policing. CSFs will be funded and managed within local government and it is hoped that government departments will be obliged to become directly involved. Dr Burger noted the importance of opening up communication channels with other government agencies in the fight against crime. Importantly, Justice Kate O’Regan observed that on a purposive interpretation of section 205(3) of the Constitution, which states that the police are responsible for, inter alia, crime prevention, it could not have been envisaged that the SAPS would have been solely responsible for the prevention of crime. There are many aspects such as education, schools, roads, safe housing, street lights and cameras which can assist with crime prevention – these cannot be seen as the responsibility of the police alone.
Today, Tuesday 13 May, will see a number of further experts appearing before the Commission of Inquiry. Mr Sean Tait, the coordinator of the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum will address issues related to community policing, arrest and detention and discipline proactive management. Mr Chris De Kock, a crime analyst and retired SAPS Crime Intelligence Officer, who in his expert report submitted to the Commission concluded that the policing in Khayelitsha is ‘policing by chance and luck, and clearly not intelligence led policing,’ will discuss effective crime intelligence. Dr Catherine Ward who will address evidence based approaches of dealing with gangs. Finally, Dr David Klatzow will deal with forensic evidence and related issues.
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