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.
Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) began giving evidence at the hearings on 13 February. Colonel Reitz, Station Commander of the Lingelethu West Police Station began this process. He was questioned about a number of problems the Commission has heard about in the previous three weeks and which had been identified through evidence before the Commission.
Joel Bregman, Policy, Communications and Research Manager of the Social Justice Commission (SJC) began the day’s session. He talked about the efforts SJC had made to meet with the police. He said the SJC was heartened when the Task Team headed by General Tshabalala met with them last year to obtain their views, but disappointed that they only became aware of the findings of the report when it was annexed to the papers before the High Court as part of the challenge to the Commission brought by the Minister of Police.
The Commission started with the evidence from Mr Glenn Schooling and Mr Martin Leamy who had conducted a review of SAPS documentation given to the Commission. They identified a number of problem areas including under-resourcing of the three police stations in Khayelitsha; high levels of absenteeism; poor oversight and inspection of station records. They said that the detective branch was dysfunctional, with respect to docket management and referral of dockets to court. Detectives were bearing a high docket load, with many detectives carrying a docket load of more than 200 cases. Adv Arendse suggested that their report was helpful in demonstrating the scale of the problem. The two experts mooted the need for effective independent civilian oversight over the police.
The morning began with the testimony of Mr Sifiso Zitwana who talked about his concern for young people in the area and the threat they and other people face from gangs in the community. Following a threat to his younger brothers in 2012 who had become involved in gangs, he participated in a community meeting attended by the community police forum and members of the SAPS. Due to lack of agreement, the meeting was unable to generate a response. He said that subsequently he had requested a police officer to assist with the gang problem, but he had just wished him ‘Good Luck’. He called for greater collaboration between the police and the community.
The Commission commenced in the morning with further cross examination of Dr Gilbert Lawrence, Head of the Department of Community Safety. The Commission then led Ms Rochelle Harmse, the Senior Public Prosecutor at Khayelitsha Magistrates’ court. She testified that on a daily basis there are dockets that are not brought to court by investigating officers resulting in many matters, including serious cases such as murder, rape, and robbery, being postponed or struck off the roll. Suspects are sometimes not brought to court by the police for their appearance due to the unavailability of police vehicles to transport prisoners to court. She also spoke of the difficulty of prosecuting allegations against suspects in vigilante violence, largely because witnesses are reluctant to testify against individuals arrested for these crimes, or no witnesses can be found.
Nine days into the Commission’s proceedings, over 42 witnesses have testified at the public hearings, including community and witnesses talking about their experiences of crime and violence, and experts who have interpreted the available data and provided their insight and recommendations for improvements.