Press statement from the SJC (1 August 2013)
SUPPORT THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
INTO POLICING IN KHAYELITSHA!
On 6 August 2013 the Constitutional Court will hear the case that will determine the future of the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry into Khayelitsha policing. The SJC is a respondent in this matter. Established in August 2012, following sustained advocacy by the SJC and other Khayelitsha civil society organisations, the Commission was tasked with investigating the breakdown in relations between the police and the Khayelitsha community as well as ineffective policing in the area.
Khayelitsha’s police and criminal justice systems remain overburdened and under-resourced. Residents of Khayelitsha continue to experience extremely high levels of crime and violence. When people seek justice through the courts they are very often left with no closure. The three SAPS stations serving the area consistently record some of the highest incidences of murder and sexual assault in the country; last year there were 360 murders in Khayelitsha – an average of one every day.
There is a wealth of evidence supporting the need for an independent investigation into the systemic problems in the Khayelitsha area – including the police’s own data. We have made it clear that such a process would assist the police rather than hinder their work. However, in November 2012, with the Commission well underway in its investigative phase, public hearings scheduled and a report with recommendations due in February 2013, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the SAPS instituted legal action to stop the Commission continuing its work. The police also sought a review of the Commission itself, arguing that it had been unlawfully established.
The Western Cape High Court heard the application and dismissed it in its January 2013 decision. The Minister of Police appealed the High Court ruling and the Constitutional Court will be the final arbiter on the matter. The SJC is confident that the Court will order that the Commission must continue with its crucial work.
The SJC notes with serious concern the increased politicisation of issues of policing, safety and justice in the Western Cape. This dilutes resources and takes time away from the critical task of increasing safety and access to justice. All responsible for the provision of safety and justice must deter from such wasteful actions and focus on the priorities.
Leading up to the Constitutional Court date on 6 August 2013, the SJC and partner organisations will hold events in Khayelitsha to raise awareness about the court case and in support of the Commission.
These are our plans going forward:
Saturday, 3 August
We will assemble at Enkanini at 10h00 by the traffic circle and then proceed down Walter Sisulu Road into the informal settlement itself. We will march via Zwezwe area and past Siphamandla High School on Lindela Street to the open area where we will hold our event. The programme will include community members speaking about their experiences of crime and violence in the area.
On the day of the Constitutional Court hearing, we will be hosting simultaneous events in Cape Town and in Johannesburg.
Tuesday, 6 August – Cape Town
We will be holding an event at Oliver Tambo Tambo Hall, located on Lansdowne Road. The event will begin at 10h00 and the programme will include speakers from a number of organisations. We also so plan to connect with the proceedings at the Constitutional Court via a video link.
Tuesday, 6 August – Johannesburg
Members from the SJC and partner organisations from Khayelitsha and Johannesburg, including the Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, Right2Know and Ndifuna Ukwazi, will be marching from Joubert Park at 9h30 to the Constitutional Court where we will be attending the court case. We will also be holding a public gathering outside the Court where speakers will address participants and court updates will be provided.
Members of the press are welcome and encouraged to attend these events.
For more information please contact:
Cape Town: Johannesburg:
Nomlungisi Qezo (0716426203) Phumeza Mlungwana (0744178306)
Ntuthuzelo Vika (0730977082) Welcome Makele (0748521118)