Implementation of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry Recommendation 12 – A Response to the Western Cape Government
1. On 25 August 2016 over 500 members of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Equal Education (EE) and partner organisations marched to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature to deliver a memorandum to the Premier.
2. At the heart of this matter, as explained in our memorandum, is the Western Cape Government’s (WCG) failure to implement Recommendation 12 of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into Policing (The Commission). This recommendation speaks directly to learner and school safety and youth gangs.
3. In August 2014, the Commission recommended that a ‘Multi-sectoral task team on youth gangs to be established by DOCS (Department of Community Safety)’. The task team was to be led by DOCS and to include the NPA, provincial departments of Education, Social Welfare, Health, the City of Cape Town, school principals and representatives of school-governing bodies in Khayelitsha, amongst other stakeholders.
4. The task team was to, ‘draw up a strategic plan to address the issue of youth gangs…and implemented within six months of the date of this report’. Further, the plan needed to include measures to keep learners safe when ‘travelling to and from school in Khayelitsha’, the ‘provision of after-school care and extra mural activities for learners in Khayeltisha’, the ‘development and extension of diversionary programmes for youth at risk’ and a number of other elements.
5. Two years later and a Multi-sectoral task team has not been established and the strategic plan as envisioned by the Commission has not been developed. The release of Equal Education’s social audit in April 2016, reports in the media and the lived experience of countless youth, indicates that many of the problems identified by the Commission relating to school safety and youth gangs continue to persist and learners are unsafe in and out of school.
6. We have previously acknowledged that the majority of the recommendations are, primarily, the responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS). However, the Province cannot use this fact to diminish or deflect from its own duties. Further, the Commission’s report is explicit: Recommendation 12 is to be implemented under the leadership of the WCG’s DOCS. It is their mandate and they must be held accountable.
7. The WCG responded to our march and memorandum through a statement on 25 August that misrepresents a number of key facts:
7.1 Firstly, the Khayelitsha Joints Forum is now known as Khayelitsha Cluster Priority Committee Meeting. More importantly, this body (established to address issues of general safety in the Khayelitsha cluster, including the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations) has not met for months.
7.2 Secondly, the Youth and Gangs Sub-forum has not met since June 2015. When it was meeting it was not constituted as per Recommendation 12. The WCG is attempting to portray the Youth and Gangs Sub-forum as if it is a Multi-sectoral Task Team. This is simply untrue.
7.3 Thirdly, the Youth Summit that was held last year did not include sufficient voices from Khayelitsha’s youth, according to DOCS’s own comments. At the Summit a resolution was taken to hold another engagement where departments relevant to the Commission could design transversal youth development strategies and to start implementation; this has never happened.
7.4 Fourthly, the WCG refers to the new National Anti-Gang Strategy and that this ‘nullified the need to have another separate strategy developed for Khayeltisha’. The Commission tasked DOCS with developing a plan within 6 months of the report which would have been early 2015. Given the problems that persist why is the WCG satisfied to wait for a National Anti-Gang Strategy when it can be proactive and take measures to curb these issues now. These are issues with long-term solutions that require immediate action and local insight.
7.5 Furthermore, in a report co-authored by DOCS and SAPS, (11 August 2016) SAPS states that, ‘DOCS did not establish a task team bringing together key institutions working with youth issues in Khayelitsha, and to draw up a strategy to address youth gangs’.
8. The obfuscations and inaccuracies listed above are a clear indication of the WCG’s indifference to the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry’s findings and recommendations. The response also mirrors our interactions with the SAPS and its inaction in implementing the recommendations directed at it.
9. We agree with the WGC that SAPS has not acted effectively to implement the Commission’s recommendations. That is why we recently launched a court cases to compel the SAPS to do so. However, it is also clear that the WCG has not fulfilled crucial parts of its mandate.
10. Given that many problems related to learner safety and youth gangs continue to persist in Khayelitsha and in the Western Cape more generally, it is distressing when the WCG attempts to shirk its duties and uses evidence of other events and processes to substitute its actual responsibilities.
11. When we were campaigning for the Commission to be established there was unfortunately a great deal of politicking around the issue. The Commission itself became a political tool. We cannot let such crucial issues become politicized. This is not about pointing fingers. It is ultimately about life, safety, education, the well-being of children. All of us need to play our parts. In this case, the WCG needs to stop deflecting attention from its own failures by referring to the police’s well documented shortcomings. It needs to fulfil its mandate as laid out by the Commission and do all within its powers to address these critical issues.
For comment please contact:
Phumeza Mlungwana (SJC) – 074 417 8306
Dalli Weyers (SJC) – 082 460 2093
Nishal Robb (EE) – 079 511 6790