CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE:
RESPONSE TO POLICE CHALLENGING O’REGAN/PIKOLI COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
The press conference will be held at:
Ndifuna Ukwazi, 47 Strand Street, Wednesday 7 November at 13h00
All media are invited
In November 2011 our organisations lodged a formal complaint against the Khayelitsha police citing ineffective policing and a breakdown in relations between police and the community. The complaint was lodged with the Premier of the Western Cape in terms of Section 206(5) of the Constitution which affords a province the power to establish a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) in order to investigate such problems.
In August 2012, following sustained campaigning and advocacy by our organisations and the submission of numerous examples that highlighted the systemic problems plaguing Khayelitsha’s police and greater criminal justice system, the O’Regan/Pikoli CoI was established.
Despite SAPS having received our complaint shortly after it was lodged, for 7 months the police ignored numerous requests from our organisations as well as from Premier Zille to respond substantively.
Last week the Minister of Police’s spokesperson stated that Mthethwa would be legally challenging the establishment of the CoI. Today, we received court papers in which Mthethwa and six other applicants – including National Police Commissioner Phiyega and the Western Cape Police Commissioner General Lamoer – ask the Cape Town High Court for urgent relief to interdict the commissioners from conducting the CoI. The applicants also seek further non-urgent relief to review and set aside the establishment of the CoI itself, arguing that it has been, amongst other things, set up irrationally, without adhering to the principles of co-operative governance , and that it should be considered fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The decision by the police to challenge this in court can only be seen in a negative light and as an attempt to avoid public scrutiny in the CoI’s public hearings, scheduled to begin in Khayelitsha on 12 November. The Minister and SAPS is attempting to derail a process aimed at improving policing, justice and safety in an area that continues to suffer from extremely high levels of violent crime.
The purpose of the CoI is not to lay blame or vilify the police. We have said from the beginning that our intention in lodging the complaint and calling for a CoI is to establish how things have reached this level and develop plans to improve conditions.
Our organisations will be opposing this application by the Minister and other high ranking SAPS members. We will not accept this attempt by the police to play politics with people’s lives and to ignore the suffering and abuse people are subjected to at the hands of criminals and the criminal justice system.
Please join us tomorrow where we will deliver a statement and answer questions.
For further comment please contact:
Social Justice Coalition Joel Bregman 072 769 0100
Treatment Action Campaign Mike Hamca 071 317 1349
Triangle Project Jayne Arnott 083 256 0443
Equal Education Yoliswe Dwane 072 342 7747
Ndifuna Ukwazi Zackie Achmat 083 467 1152