Everyday in Khayelitsha people are robbed, raped and murdered. Everyday in Khayelitsha people are deprived of their right to life, safety, bodily integrity, justice and equality.
On 25 August 2014 the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into Policing (the Commission) released its report aimed at improving safety and policing in Khayelitsha and South Africa. Since then we have seen positive developments at the local level within SAPS and a willingness to engage and work with communities to implement the Commission’s recommendations. But still there was no response from the Minister.
Despite a year of sustained attempts to meaningfully engage with the National Minister and Commissioner of Police on the Commission’s detailed 500 page report containing findings and recommendations, the Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna Ukwazi (two of the original complainant organisations) would only become privy to the SAPS’ response when a document marked “Strictly Confidential” was released to the public by the Premier of the Western Cape on 7 August 2015.
(See the SAPS response here: http://www.sjc.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/SAPS-response-to-Premier-re-Commission-of-Inquiry-5-June-2015.pdf)
The response is an attack on the dignity and security of Khayelitsha residents. It is also an attack on the dignity of SAPS officers working in Khayelitsha and other poor and working class areas who continue to work under extremely difficult conditions with limited and inequitable resources. The position adopted by the police is also an attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility and is a denial of the challenges faced both by the community and the police.
Given this response our organisations have no option but to implement a programme of action to hold SAPS at a national level accountable and responsive to the needs of communities.
For the next two weeks the Social Justice Coalition will be organising pickets in Khayelitsha and the CBD to draw the attention of communities to the ongoing injustice faced by an unresponsive police. These pickets will culminate in a march to Parliament on 25 August 2015 (the one year anniversary of the Commission) where a memorandum will be handed to the Minister of Police demanding that he respond to the findings of the Commission and take urgent action to implement its recommendations. The march will be followed by a 72-hour sit-in outside Parliament.
If the Minister fails to respond positively, the SJC and NU will have no other option other than to file legal papers to compel the Minister to at the very least revise the current irrational and inequitable allocation of police resources, particularly human resources, in Khayelitsha and across the country.
Given the daily reality faced by people living in Khayelitsha, Minister Nhleko can no longer ignore the recommendations of the Commission. In order to save lives, informed action and leadership is needed urgently.
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