A STEP TOWARDS IMPROVING SAFETY AND JUSTICE IN KHAYELITSHA AND BEYOND
The 21st January 2014 was a momentous day for safety and justice for Khayelitsha. The O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry (“the Commission”) officially began its first public phase of work. Tasked with investigating allegations of poor policing and a broken relationship between the community of Khayelitsha and the SAPS, the Commission has been working largely in an investigative manner since it was established in August 2012.
Yesterday the Commission and legal representatives of all the parties conducted inspections of the three police stations in Khayelitsha. Today a number of sites in Khayelitsha identified by residents as hot spots of crime will be inspected. Thursday will see the first day of public hearings – scheduled every day from January 23 to February 21 – where residents will provide evidence of their experiences of policing, safety and justice. The SAPS, other members of the criminal justice system, government officials from the City of Cape Town and the provincial Department of Community Safety, and academics will also provide testimony.
Residents of Khayelitsha have experienced systemic problems with policing for years. Problems range from police failing to attend bail hearings and court dates, poor investigations, lost dockets, and no updates for victims to serious transgressions such as corruption and brutality. The information that has arisen as a result of the Commission’s work further justifies the years of protest and the eventual decision by our organisations to call for an independent investigation into Khayelitsha’s police.
It is the hope that the Commission will be able to identify and begin to curb the negative practices that undermine safety and justice and at that same time put measure in place to support those officers who have the needs of the community at heart and are severely under-resourced and work under extremely trying conditions. But this is not enough. We know that police and communities have to work in concert if we are ever to achieve safety – and it is the hope that this Commission will contribute to mending this relationship.
It is hoped that recommendations made by the Commission once their work is completed will be developed into a long term plan to increase safety; and to ensure proper detection, investigation and conviction of crimes especially serious ones such as murder, gender-based violence, hate crimes and assault. Safety means creating safe schools, streets, homes, transport, and public spaces. It is more than a functional police and criminal justice system and requires coordination from a variety of actors.
We recognise that the police alone cannot create safe communities. However a well-resourced police service with members who are professional, have adequate support and who uphold and promote the spirit of the law and the Constitution is a vital ingredient in building safe communities. We maintain that the Commission is a crucial element of this process.
To mark the beginning of the Commission and to highlight and protest against the continued school gang violence in Khayelitsha we will be holding a number of public events in the coming weeks.
EVENT 1: 23 January, 14h00 – 1600
March from Engen garage by Bulumko Senior Secondary School to Lookout Hill
EVENT 2: 1 February, 10h00 – 13h00
March inside Monwabisi Park next to Luthando Cash & Carry
EVENT 3: 8 February, 10h00 – 13h00
March from Sigwele Avenue close to Ikhusi Primary School to Thandazo Street, Site B
EVENT 4: 15 February
Town Two, route to be confirmed
If you would like to join the marches or attend the public hearings please contact the people below for further details:
Malwande Msongelwa (SJC) 078 175 7632
Billy Dutuylwa (TAC) 078 926 5160
For media enquiries please contact:
Joel Bregman (SJC) 072 769 0100
Yoliswa Dwane (EE) 072 342 7747
Phumzile Tyulu (NU) 071 129 7609