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.
THE COMPLAINTS ARE JUSTIFIED
During the course of these hearings we will set out to place evidence before this Commission which shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the community’s complaints are justified.
8.1 Members of the Khayelitsha community routinely experience violations of their constitutional rights in their dealings with the police.
8.2 Girls and women are often beaten and raped whilst walking to and from communal toilets or fetching water from communal taps close to their homes; while domestic abuse poses a threat to women in their own homes.
8.3 While the high levels of crime affect all community members, they particularly impact on children, girls, the elderly and groups vulnerable to hate crimes such as refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Khayelitsha was the scene of the sexual assault and murder in December 2003 of 22 year old Lorna Mlofana by a group of young men who learnt that she was HIV positive. Lorna was a leader of the Treatment Action Campaign in her area. At that stage the community and civil society organisations began calling upon the state to provide improved policing and service for rape victims.
8.4 Property crimes such as burglaries; theft and robbery are rife and are often not reported to the police because they do not receive the necessary attention.
8.5 Trust and faith in the police, in their ability to protect residents from harm, to combat crime, to investigate once a crime has taken place has been eroded in Khayelitsha. The brutal acts of vigilantism that have claimed dozens of lives in recent years are the shocking end result of this erosion.
8.6 The Khayelitsha community often suffers as a result of lack of co-ordination between the police and the prosecuting services. Dockets are often lost, resulting in cases being struck off the court rolls. Investigating officers and prosecutors appear not to cooperate effectively where they interface regarding what investigations are necessary for successful prosecutions. Investigating officers often do not communicate with victims of crime regarding the progress of investigations or prosecutions, including information about court dates.
8.7 Investigating officers routinely do not secure the presence of witnesses at trials, resulting in lengthy postponements. Investigations and securing of crime scenes such as rape, gathering of evidence, interviewing of witnesses and other basic procedures are often ignored or performed incompletely.
8.8 There is insufficient visible policing in Khayelitsha in general. It is almost non-existent in its informal settlements. No attempt is made to provide appropriate forms of visible policing such as foot or bicycle patrols backed up by vehicles. In addition the absence of other services such as proper street lighting and roads makes it easy for criminals to hide and escape. The absence of visible policing means that children, particularly those of school-going age are vulnerable to criminals.
8.9 The failures of the Khayelitsha police to prevent, combat and investigate crime, take down statements, open cases, apprehend criminals are systemic in nature and they constitute a violation of the provisions of section 195 of the Constitution which requires that all public administration be conducted professionally, ethically, impartially and with the effective, economic and efficient use of human, material and financial resources.
9. To a large extent the breakdown in SAPS community relations as well as the inefficiencies complained of will be confirmed by SAPS’ own evidence before this Commission. For instance in the report compiled by the Divisional Commissioner in its Inspectorate, the late Lt General Tshabalala as a result of the Inspectorate’s own investigations of the complaints which led to the establishment of this Commission, the Inspectorate found after looking into the state of police-community relations that the constitutional structures established to enhance police-community relations are not functioning effectively and optimised in Khayelitsha.
10.The Inspectorate further found the following inefficiencies:
10.1 Resources allocated to sector policing at the Khayelitsha police station are on the decrease. As the demand for services increases more members allocated to sector policing are redeployed to perform other functions.
10.2 The fact that one member and one vehicle was at the time deployed in each of the sectors at the Khayelitsha police station created a situation whereby sectors are jointly policed by 2 members from different sectors. This had a negative impact on both the visibility of SAPS in the sectors as well as on the reaction time to attend to complaints.
10.3 At the Harare and Lingelethu West police stations, the Provincial Guidelines in relation to sector policing were not being complied with.
10.4 At Harare and Lingelethu West police stations a shortage of resources is hampering the implementation of effective sector policing.
7.1 Not all complaints received from complainants are captured on the incident report system; complaints are not captured on the incident report system after the complaints have already been attended to.
7.2 Occurrence book entries are also not being made of all complaints received.
7.3 The data integrity of police reaction time is questionable owing to poor record keeping of complaints received.
7.4 A large number of suspects are detained, not charged and then later released, the general reason being that suspects often cannot be linked with the crimes committed.
7.5 SAPS members appear to be arresting and detaining suspects without the requisite reasonable suspicion. The arresting members do not make statements indicating the reasons for arrests made.
7.6 Suspects are generally not charged within 48 hours.
7.7 The investigation of case dockets by detectives does not result in much success. Very little impact is made on serious crimes such as robberies and housebreakings.
7.8 In most of these cases no facial identification profiles are compiled even where the complainants had described the suspects, witness statements are not always taken, the complainants / witnesses are not given the opportunity of viewing the photo albums of criminals available at SAPS Police Stations.
7.9 The crime information officers at the police stations do not assist the investigation officers by providing positive information. Although the same suspects are described in different case dockets, no information on these suspects is presented.
7.10 Crime scene experts are not always summoned to attend at crime scenes.
7.11 Witness statements are not obtained before case dockets are sent to court which leads to cases being withdrawn.
7.12 Case dockets are closed without stolen property with serial numbers being circulated.
7.13 Case dockets are withdrawn in court because statements by the arresting officers are not filed in the case dockets.
8.The Commission will hear that after its investigations of the complaints, the Inspectorate concluded that ‘the South African Police Service cannot claim that the services that are rendered to the community in the Khayelitsha area are of such a standard that the community does not have any reason for complaining.’
9.The Inspectorate’s conclusion, though demure, was correct. What the evidence before this Commissions shows is that in the three police stations in Khayelitsha the basic building blocks required for a functional police service are either broken, dysfunctional or missing altogether.