Towards a Safer Khayelitsha

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry
into Allegations of Police Inefficiency and
a Breakdown in Relations between SAPS
and the Community in Khayelitsha
Click here to view the Final Report August 2014

All the documents that formed part of the Commission’s deliberations are now on the website under the ‘Bundles’ menu.

Inspection in Loco Conducted on 21 and 22 January 2014

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Evidence Leaders opening statements

1. These proceedings, which follow on the inspections in loco that provided the Commission with a deeper understanding of the context of Khayelitsha today as well as a context in which policing takes place, mark the commencement of the hearing of oral evidence. Whereas the Commission has received many documents and statements, the oral evidence to be led by the evidence leaders will supplement other evidence before the Commission.

2. Our role is to assist the Commission to investigate, gather and lead evidence arising from the complaints received by the Premier of the Western Cape relating to:

2.1. In the first instance, allegations of inefficiency of the South African Police Service stationed at Khayelitsha (Site B) Police Station, Harare Police Station, Lingelethu West Police Station and any other units of the South African Police Service operating in Khayelitsha;

2.2. In the second instance, allegations of a breakdown in relations between the Khayelitsha community and members of the South African Police Service.

3. This task has proven to be extensive and dynamic. It has been our observation that the work to be performed by the Commission is an important and serious one.

4. We shall, in the course of the public hearings, be leading before the Commission some of the evidence that we gathered.

5. At all times while investigating and gathering the evidence we were guided by section 205(3) of the Constitution which provides that the objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law. We were, furthermore, guided by the spirit of the Constitution with reference to the principles of democracy, human dignity, openness, accountability and transparency.

6. In pursuance of our mandate, mindful that Khayelitsha is an established community of 30 years, we consulted with various community stakeholders, interacted with local organisations and spoke to various community members. We also consulted with others more knowledgeable in a variety of spheres and fields which make up the whole of Khayelitsha.

7. Whereas the full list of witnesses to be called by the evidence leaders will be published, I mention some of the witnesses, beginning with the witnesses who will provide the setting in which policing takes place in Khayelitsha:

7.1. Bhekithemba Simelane- Deputy Director, Policy and Research in the Provincial Department of Community Safety, who studied geography at university honours level, will set out the geographic layout of Khayelitsha.

7.2. Bishop Mtsolo- a clergyman and community elder who has lived and worked in Khayelitsha for many years, will share his own experiences.

7.3. Josette Cole- a seasoned development activist and writer who witnessed first-hand and understands the events that led to the formation of Khayelitsha in 1984, currently Executive Director of Development Action Group (DAG) and Research Associate at the Centre for Archive and Public Culture, University of Cape Town. The objectives of her evidence will be to describe, analyse and explain the background to the making of Khayelitsha, the making and shaping of Khayelitsha, urban governance and Khayelitsha before democratic transition, how the past is ever present - Khayelitsha in the context of democratic transition as well as ways to begin to re-imagine and re-position Khayelitsha in the city of Cape Town.

7.4. Prof Charles Simkins- a leading social scientist and demographer- will outline the demographic profile of Khayelitsha.

7.5. Prof Jeremy Seekings- another respected social scientist- will provide a detailed examination of the social and economic context of Khayelitsha.

7.6. Jean Redpath- a criminologist and researcher at the University of the Western Cape Community Law Centre- will analyse the SAPS crime data and  interpret arising trends.

8. In the course of investigating and following-up on the specific allegations of inefficiency we came across a body of relevant information which we collected, some of which we shall be presenting during the public hearings. All this information has been provided to the parties represented in the Commission.

9. This includes the evidence of various community members who have in one way or another been affected by crime and have something to share about their experiences, knowledge or perceptions relating to policing in Khayelitsha. Some of these community members are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles of those killed in vigilante activities. Some school principals, such as, Madoda Mahlutshana, Xolela Mjonondwana and Bernard Hlongwane will testify. We shall lead evidence of Pharie Sefali, a young journalist who has experience of and has been reporting on gangs operating in Khayelitsha. Vicki Igglesden will share the experiences of the Somali community in Khayelitsha.

10. We shall also focus on children and the youth, who are the vulnerable in society. In this regard we shall lead the evidence of the following witnesses:

10.1. Dr Kaminer- from the University of Cape Town’s Department of Psychology and Child Guidance Clinic- who explored the prevalence and psychological impact of exposure to violence among the children in Khayelitsha.

10.2. Dr Harrison- Chief Executive Officer of the DG Murray Trust- who will explore the various aspects which are likely to determine the future of about ten thousand children born in Khayelitsha in 2014.

10.3. Patrick Burton- Executive Director at the Centre for Crime and Justice- who, at the request of the Commission, conducted a youth focus group study exploring young people’s perceptions and experiences of local police services, efficiency and performance.

11. We shall lead evidence of sexual violence and domestic violence. Dr Genine Josias- who has for many years run what is now known as the Khayelitsha Thuthuzela Care Centre (a centre which provides survivors of sexual assault with medical care, and overall support)- will testify on her first-hand experiences on how Khayelitsha police, particularly members of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Violence (FCS) Unit, are coping with such cases.

12. Funeka Soldaat, a gender activist and coordinator at Free Gender- will talk about the experiences of lesbian and bisexual community.

13. Our investigation also concentrated on the high crime rate in Khayelitsha. We paid particular attention to serious and prevalent crimes. We considered the general crime statistics and looked into how police deal with Khayelitsha’s prevailing circumstances. We noted that there was a high rate of violent crimes including rape, robbery, assault and murder.

14. We shall accordingly lead evidence which deals with various aspects pertaining to crime investigation, case management and detective work.

15. We were particularly concerned by what we discovered when we went through randomly selected and finalised charge sheets at Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court. Here we found that a significant number of cases involving sexual offences, and other crimes like murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, driving under the influence of alcohol, and others, are either withdrawn or struck off the roll on a frequent basis due to incomplete police investigation or police failure to bring dockets to Court. We found a similar trend for the years 2010/2011/2012/2013.

16. We shall endeavour during these hearings to obtain clarity from the relevant officials why this is happening.

17. In closing, we bring it to the attention of the Commission that as we present the evidence, police training will become a recurring theme.