Too many bad apples: IPID report reveals unacceptable levels of criminality within the police

By Craig Oosthuizen


Over the past year, people filed 6 728 cases of criminal and professional misconduct against police officers with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). This number represents 4.3% of active police officers (officers employed in terms of the SAPS Act).

According to IPID, its role is to “ensure independent oversight” over the police, which involves investigating criminal offences by the police and making appropriate recommendations. IPID reports to the Minister of Police and has oversight over SAPS as well as municipal police services, such as the Cape Town Metro Police.

The 2011 IPID Act imposes greater reporting obligations on the police. It provides us with a clearer picture than ever before of the levels of criminality and misconduct within the police service.

Section 28 of the Act requires IPID to investigate: deaths in police custody; deaths as a result of police action; complaints related to the discharge of a police firearm; rapes by police officers; rapes in police custody; complaints of torture or assault by police officers; police corruption, and any other matters referred to IPID by its Executive Director, the Minister of Police, an MEC, or the Secretary of Police.

IPID investigated 7 277 cases in the 2012/2013 financial year, including 549 cases carried over from the year before. The vast majority of reported cases involved members of SAPS, with only 165 cases reported against members of the municipal police services.

Most of the received cases were for assault — 4 131 cases in total. Roughly 30% were for assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and the rest were mostly for common assault. People also reported 50 cases of torture by police officers. Unfortunately, Parliament only passed legislation making torture a criminal offence in July this year, 15 years after South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1998. This meant that until recently, cases of torture (like those in the IPID report) could only be prosecuted as cases of assault.

147 incidents of rape by police officers were reported, with 55 cases involving on-duty and 92 involving off-duty police officers. Unlike other offences, the IPID Act requires IPID to investigate allegations of rape regardless of whether the officer concerned was on duty at the time. People reported 22 cases of rape while in police custody; 13 of these were allegedly committed by police officers. This demonstrates a lack of proper monitoring and oversight of persons in custody.

Even more damning are the 275 deaths that occurred in police custody: 96 were allegedly due to suicide (35%); 80 people died of injuries they sustained before arrest (29%); and 77 were reported to have died of natural causes (28%). In most cases of alleged suicide (75%), people used prohibited items such as belts or shoelaces to commit suicide. This again demonstrates a lack of proper monitoring or custody management. Most of the deaths caused by prior injuries (91%) were the result of injuries sustained during vigilante attacks.

Although many deaths were reportedly due to natural causes, there is reason to doubt the reliability of this statistic. Previous research into pre-trial detention conditions has revealed that inmates are often not properly medically assessed when they are admitted; many inmates do not receive medical attention or are ignored when they complain of sickness and pain; and often the doctor who is said to have certified the death fails to sign the forms. This raises concerns as to whether people in custody receive proper medical attention, and whether these deaths could have been prevented.

IPID also investigates “death as result of police action”. It is important to note that each of these cases may involve more than one fatality, because reported cases refer to single incidents rather than the number of people killed. For example, the police shooting of striking miners at Marikana resulted in 34 deaths but only one case was registered, and 270 striking workers received wounds serious enough to qualify as possible attempted murder.

Last year IPID investigated 431 cases involving 485 deaths. This includes 156 cases of people killed during an arrest. 539 cases were also brought against police officers for attempted murder; again, many of these cases involved multiple victims.

IPID investigated over 120 new cases of corruption last year. Of those, 75% were for extortion or soliciting a bribe. It also received six cases for systematic corruption, defined as “an institutionalised, endemic manipulation of a system by individuals or networks/organisations, taking advantage of weakness in the processes and systems for illicit gain, where there are leadership deficiencies, collusion and/or abuse of power.”

Once IPID completes a criminal investigation and finds evidence that police officers broke the law, it refers the recommendation to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Of 1 088 criminal recommendations, 545 were referred to the NPA. The rest were not referred because IPID could not substantiate the allegations. Most of these referrals were for assault (384), with 46 being for death in police custody or as a result of police action, and 12 being for rape by a police officer or by someone else while in police custody. 57 police officers were convicted during the reporting period, with the majority of the convictions (27) being for death as a result of police action.

IPID made 1 044 disciplinary recommendations last year, but only managed to refer 788 recommendations to SAPS during the reporting period. The other 256 recommendations still need to be referred. 84 disciplinary convictions were made against members of the police. Some disciplinary actions were startling: some cases of murder and rape resulted in little more than a written warning. In two cases of attempted murder, the officers were only required to attend corrective counselling. This is concerning in light of a SAPS internal audit from August, which revealed that 1 448 police officers continued to actively serve despite being convicted of criminal offences.

The IPID Act, by increasing the mandate of IPID in terms of criminal investigations and reporting, offers the opportunity to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the police service than has been possible before. In order to foster an atmosphere of accountability, officers accused of criminal offences should be suspended until their guilt or innocence has been determined in court. Members of the police found guilty of a criminal offence should without exception be dismissed from the police service. This is essential to build a democratic, effective and accountable police service under professional and ethical command.

Original image of rotten apples by Alison E Dunn (CC BY 2.0).

Originally published in on 09 October 2013

The People versus the Minister of Police

By Jacques van Heerden

ToyToyingAtPeoplesCommission (1)Yesterday, the Constitutional Court dismissed a request by the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and others to hear a direct appeal against the appointment of the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille appointed the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission to investigate allegations of inefficiency at police stations in Khayelitsha and a breakdown in relations between the Khayelitsha community and members of the Police Service. The court effectively found that the Minister had no valid reasons to appeal and ordered the government to pay the legal costs of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).

Minister Mthethwa’s lawyers argued that Zille did not have the constitutional right to appoint the commission, that she had done so without meeting her obligations in terms of cooperative governance, and that the terms of the commission were “vague and overbroad”.

A unanimous verdict written by Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke on behalf of the Constitutional Court rejected each of these arguments as “without merit”. The court criticised the minister of police for not engaging with the premier more closely, referring to nine months of “extensive correspondence” between the premier and the provincial commissioner of police, which had occurred with full knowledge of the national commissioner and the minister. They also pointed out that the minister waited until the last minute to seek a remedy, relying on the courts to referee their disagreement without first declaring a dispute, engaging with the premier, or responding directly to the community’s complaints.

The court also expressed concern about the minister’s decision to resort to expensive legal measures rather than engaging with the province or the community. Whereas both the provincial and the national governments’ legal costs are “ultimately sourced from the same public purse”, the only group who need to pay for their own legal representation are the communities.

Justice Moseneke wrote in the judgment, when awarding costs to the SJC: “The Social Justice Coalition is a civil society organisation acting in the public interest. It was one of the parties which lodged the complaints with the Premier. The complaints led to the appointment of the Commission and later to this dispute. It is now undisputed that the nature and scope of the complaints justified the appointment of the Commission. The correspondence between the Minister, Commissioner and Premier, as well as the report of the Police Service task team, show that the complaints are not frivolous and deserve to be tackled. The Social Justice Coalition should not be out of pocket for raising a matter of importance in favour of vulnerable people who are victims of pervasive crime.”

Regarding the minister’s claim that the premier did not have the constitutional authority to appoint the commission, the court found that “the competence to appoint a provincial commission of inquiry into police inefficiency and its alleged dysfunctional relations with any community is part of a constitutionally-mandated scheme through which provinces are entitled to monitor and oversee the police function within their area of remit”.

The Constitution recognises that, although the ultimate responsibility for the police belongs to the minister, provincial authorities such as the office of the premier share responsibility for effective, efficient and visible policing. Even though the province does not have direct control over the policing function, it “has a legitimate interest that its residents are shielded from crime”. Additionally, the provincial commissioner is accountable to the provincial legislature for the state of policing in the province.

As a result, the court also found that it was essential to give the O’Regan–Pikoli commission the right to issue subpoenas, otherwise it would not have the coercive powers required to compel members of the public or government officials to appear before the commission or to compel government bodies and others to provide copies of relevant documents. In the words of Justice Moseneke, “a commission without coercive powers would indeed be unable to fulfil its mandate”.

Although the terms of the commission are narrow, the community’s complaint to Premier Zille raises a wide range of issues. This includes “insufficient visible policing in the community, lack of witness protection, lack of co-ordination between the police and prosecuting services, and poor treatment of victims of crimes” as well as “the routine violation of the rights of the residents of Khayelitsha” and “the impact of high crime rates on residents including children and people vulnerable to discrimination”.

Crime is a complex problem that requires a comprehensive, carefully planned, and well-informed fact-based responses by a wide range of community members, organisations, academics, and community organisations. The O’Regan–Pikoli Commission of Inquiry is only the next step in a campaign for safety and security that has been going on for at least 10 years, and seems set to continue for many more. But it is a crucial step in engaging the communities who are most vulnerable to violent crime, gender-based violence, and other forms of criminal harm.

Originally published in on 02 October 2013

Minister Challenges Commission in ConCourt


By Craig Oosthuizen

Protesting Outside the ConCourt

For well over ten years the Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign and other community organisations have been campaigning for safe and secure communities through countless protests, marches and letters of demand. On 6 August 2013 the Social Justice Coalition faced the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, in the Constitutional Court, defending the appointment of the O’Regan/Pikoli commission of inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha. This follows a decision by the Western Cape High Court dismissing Mthethwa’s application for an urgent interdict to prevent the Commission from proceeding.

In Khayelitsha and around the country, people’s constitutional rights to life, dignity and safety are threatened every day. In Khayelitsha, even walking to the toilet can be dangerous, with poor lighting and long distances leading to many people being robbed or raped. According to SAPS’ official data, in Khayelitsha at least one person is murdered every day and at least two people are raped. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. The actual figures are probably far worse, since the SAPS data only incorporates reported crimes.

Mthethwa’s advocate, Norman Arendse, questioned the Premier’s authority to appoint a commission of inquiry into SAPS; claimed that the terms of reference of the commission are too vague; and challenged the Commission’s power to issue subpoenas to SAPS personnel. The Commission was appointed in terms of section 206(5) of the Constitution, which allows a province to “investigate, or appoint a commission of inquiry into, any complaints of police inefficiency” in order to give effect to section 206(3). Section 206(3) entitles a province to monitor, oversee and promote good relations between the community and the police. Section 127(2)(e) also entitles the Premier to appoint a commission of inquiry.

Arendse argued that the Premier was exceeding her jurisdiction when she appointed the commission of inquiry. Arendse claimed that while the Commission is nominally independent, there is a clear link with the Province and its purpose is to fulfil the functions of the provincial executive. Justice Nkabinde asked Arendse if he agreed that the matters being investigated are of public concern. Arendse replied by insisting that the Commission was attempting to manage and control SAPS, and since SAPS is part of the national government the province should not be allowed to call them to account. Advocate Rosenberg, representing the Western Cape government, responded by saying that the Premier was merely fulfilling her constitutional obligation to appoint a commission, and that the Commission was not trying to exercise control over the police.

Arendse claimed that the terms of reference, or purpose, of the Commission were too broad and undefined. Rosenberg answered by pointing out that the terms of reference are clearly limited to Khayelitsha, to the complaints made to the Premier regarding section 206(3) issues, and to SAPS. The Advocate for the Social Justice Coalition, Hathorn, also contended that the terms of reference were very clearly defined.

According to Arendse, the province was only permitted to oversee and monitor the police, and therefore the Constitution did not foresee a commission with coercive powers, such as the power to subpoena. The purpose of a commission of inquiry is simply to advise, not investigate. Justice van der Westhuizen asked how a commission without power is even thinkable. Adding to that, Justice Moseneke asked Arendse what constitutional “distaste” comes from asking the police to tell their side of the story. Especially since the general understanding is that both courts and commissions issue subpoenas. Arendse countered by pointing out that, since the provincial executive does not have the power to subpoena SAPS, it is illogical that they should be able to appoint a commission with more power than themselves.

Rosenberg’s response was that section 206(5) was designed to give the province teeth, and the power to subpoena gave meaning to that provision. Justice van der Westhuizen asked how subpoenas can be seen as a form of control of SAPS, when they are merely asking for documents and evidence to be produced.

Hathorn referred to the President of the Republic of South Africa v South African Rugby Football Union[1] case. In that case it was held that the President could appoint a commission with coercive powers, where the matter being investigated is of public concern, even though the President does not have the power to issue subpoenas.

Hathorn argued that the Constitutional provision that allows the Premier to appoint a commission mirrors the provision that entitles the President to appoint a commission, and therefore coercive powers are implied. We are dealing with a special constitutional power to confer the Commission with powers the Premier does not have. According to Hathorn, a commission without the power to subpoena would defeat the purpose of section 206(5). Justice Nkabinde questioned how complaints that the police were violating laws based on fundamental rights could be dealt with if the Commission could not subpoena the police.

In his final arguments before the court, Arendse asked that the court set the appointment of the Commission aside. The justices are now deliberating, and will hopefully give a judgement soon.

Nearly 500 members of the community mobilised in both Khayelitsha and outside the Constitutional Court in Support of the Commission. Justice Moseneke reminded the court that this case is about people and their rights. Given the extremely low levels of trust by the community in the police, this commission offers a key opportunity to rebuild that relationship. Nathi Mthethwa should stop wasting tax payer’s money in court and cooperate with the commission.

[1] 2000 (1) SA 1


CSC written submission on the Green Paper on Policing

The Campaign for Safe Communities (CSC) has made a written submission to the Civilian Secretariat of Police on the Green Paper on Policing. The Green Paper was released on 18 June and the deadline for submissions was originally set for 7 July.

The CSC, supported by our partner organisations, wrote to the Civilian Secretariat requesting that the deadline be extended to 31 August. The Secretariat responded by extending the deadline to 31 July.

In all the meetings and workshops held with partner organisations and community members, the general consensus was that the timeframe given was not sufficient in order to make serious and meaningful submissions. Furthermore, the public was not given the opportunity to participate in the initial drafting of the Green Paper.

Over the last decade, frequent revelations regarding police brutality and misconduct have eroded the public’s trust in the service. According to a SAPS internal audit released earlier this week, many police officers remain on active duty despite being convicted of criminal offences. Serious transformation needs to happen within the police service in order to rebuild people’s trust. The Green Paper could have provided an opportunity to start the process of reengaging the public and rebuilding the public’s confidence in the service. Unfortunately, that opportunity was squandered by the lack of public participation.

The CSC’s submission calls for the creation of a police service that is:

  • Democratic, accountable and effective under a professional and ethical command,
  • Performs its constitutional obligations diligently and without delay in terms of section 237 of the Constitution,
  • Does not tolerate corruption, and
  • Safeguards the vulnerable.

To read the CSC’s submission on the Green Paper on Policing, please follow the link:

CSC Submission on the Green Paper on Policing 31 July 2013

Minister Mthethwa announces conclusion of Audit on active SAPS members with criminal records

Media Statement from SAPS (28July 2013)

PRETORIA – The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa today announced that an audit on members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) with criminal offences but are still within the employ of the department, has been completed. He revealed that the audit established that 1448 members have criminal offences.

“Reaching this milestone was critical for us as this was a very complex and painstaking exercise which entailed the assessment of individual members’ records. The process began two years ago and included auditing of all SAPS employees, those employed under SAPS Act and Public Service Act.”

“It entailed thorough processing of statistical data, cross checking against the Crime Information System, personnel human resource files and finger printing. The audit process was protracted and took longer than anticipated because part of our approach on this matter was to ensure we exhaust all the avenues, be they legal, operational as well as labour relations aspects.”

“The next step is for the National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega, to act on the outcome of the audit. I have now instructed her and the management team that feedback on action should be provided to me by the end of October this year,” the Minister said.

Minister Mthethwa indicated that the audit process revealed serious challenges with regard to management of discipline within the department. It was against this backdrop that he instructed the officials to develop a long term strategy on matters of discipline and related matters, which they are busy with.

“I wish to sincerely thank the team (SAPS as well as the Civilian Secretariat for Police) which worked very hard and meticulously to ensure that this audit was completed. The process going forward will require even more dedication.”

“This is a legal process where everyone will be given an opportunity to state his or her side of the story. That said, our resolve to root out any unwanted elements within the police will never be deterred by anything, no matter how long and what it takes,” the Minister concluded.


For enquiries, please contact:

Zweli Mnisi, Spokesperson to the Minister of Police 082 045 4024

Issued by the Ministry of Police

Statements on police criminality from the IPID website


Media Statement
14 May 2013
A 48 year old Warrant Officer, stationed at Mamelodi East SAPS will appear at the Mamelodi West Magistrate’s Court on 14 May 2013 following his arrest for raping a 13 year old minor.
It is alleged by the complainant (13 year old girl) that on 28 April 2013 at about 17:00 she was at her place of residence when the suspect, who is a sector manager at SAPS Mamelodi East, arrived at her place to collect her. Earlier that day the victim’s guardian had called the CPF members to talk to the complainant for refusing to do any chores in the house. The girl did not respond positively to the CPF members, so they called the sector manager for assistance. The sector manager (suspect) arrived at 17:00 and took the girl in a police vehicle – he gave the victim’s family the impression that the victim was going to be handed over to a female officer. He took her to a KFC and bought her a meal and then he took her to his house where he kept her for the night and raped her. He dropped the victim off at home the next morning.
The victim did not tell anyone due to having been threatened by the suspect. The next evening after 17:00 the suspect again took the girl to his house. As he was preparing to rape the girl, she managed to escape after asking to go to the toilet. The victim reported a case of rape with the assistance of other police officials who had picked her up on the road. The case was reported to the IPID which took over the investigation.
After absconding for about a week, the suspect handed himself in at Brooklyn SAPS. He appeared in court on 07 May 2013 facing a charge of rape and was remanded to 14 May 2013 at Mamelodi Court B at 12:00 for a formal bail application. The IPID will oppose bail.
Upon conducting further investigations it was established that this suspect has two child rape cases pending at Kwamhlanga and Mamelodi East. The victims in the two pending were also minors aged 12 and 8 respectively and he was given bail on both matters.
Issued by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate
For enquiries:
IPID National Spokesman
Moses Dlamini
082 809 1927


Media Statement
PRETORIA – 13 June 2013
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Free State has agreed with the recommendations of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) that Warrant Officer Ernest Maratshane should be prosecuted for assault. The DPP has decided that the suspect be prosecuted for two (2) counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).
Video footage of the assault emerged early in April 2013 from the media. The IPID conducted an investigation and recommended that the suspect be charged for the offences which took place at the filling station and at the police station.
Since the victim refused to co-operate with the investigation, the DPP has decided that she is a compellable witness.
Warrant Officer Maratshane will be summoned to appear at the Smithfield Magistrate’s Court on 04 July 2013 to answer to the aforesaid charges.
Issued by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate


Media Statement
PRETORIA – 10 June 2013
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has arrested a 30 year old male constable for the murder of a 26 year old Zimbabwean national. The suspect constable who is attached to the Maitland Flying Squad Unit is alleged to have shot and killed the deceased with his official firearm in the early hours of Sunday, 09 June 2013.
It is alleged that at about 02h00 on 09 June 2013, the suspect constable was outside Zizi’s Tavern in Mfuleni Extention 6, where he wanted to buy alcohol, but was told that the tavern had already closed. An argument between him and the deceased, who was working as a security officer (guard) at the tavern ensued. The policeman alleges that the deceased pulled a knife and threatened to stab the policeman who then fired shots with his official firearm hitting the security guard on the shoulder. The security guard died on the scene.
Upon being notified of the incident, the IPID attended the scene and started with the investigation. Preliminary investigation and witnesses statements obtained by the IPID does not corroborate with the version of the policeman, hence the arrest of the suspect constable for murder on 09 June 2013. He will appear in the Bluedowns Magistrate Court on Tuesday, 11 June 2013. The Post Mortem is scheduled for today, 10 June 2013 at Tygerberg Forensic Pathology Services.
The investigation continues.
Issued by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate
For enquiries:
IPID National Spokesman
Moses Dlamini
082 809 1927


Media Statement
PRETORIA – 27 May 2013
A 30 year old Constable has been arrested by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) for shooting and killing a 22 year old Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student, Gopolang Ngobeni. The shooting occurred at a Caltex Garage on Randfontein Road in Randfontein.
It is alleged that on 25 May 2013 five students from TUT were on their way to the funeral of the father of their friend in Mohlakeng in the West Rand. The students had travelled from the TUT Soshanguve Campus. Apparently the students did not know the direction and they got lost. They then followed a security vehicle which had come in front of them. After the security vehicle made a U-turn at a cul-de-sac, the students also made a U-turn. While driving towards a Caltex Garage with the intention of asking for directions, another security vehicle from the same company cut in front of them. Both security vehicles stopped next to a marked SAPS vehicle. The students drove on to the filling station. It is alleged that within a short space of time, the police vehicle (with its blue light on), as well as the security vehicles, followed the students to the filling station, which is near where they were.
The students were ordered to get out of their vehicle by the police. While trying to get out of the vehicle, Gopolang Ngobeni was shot by a policeman with an R5 rifle. The victim was declared dead at the scene. The vehicle in which the students were travelling was searched and nothing illegal was found.
The suspect was arrested by the IPID. He appeared on 27 May 2013 at the Randfontein Magistrate’s Court on a charge of murder. The case has been postponed to 3 June 2013 for a formal bail application.
The investigation continues.
Issued by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
For enquiries:
IPID National Spokesman
Moses Dlamini
082 809 1927


Download the press release here.


The Campaign for Safe Communities is a broad-based coalition advocating for improved safety and access to justice for all. The Campaign condemns in the strongest terms any instance of police brutality and corruption.

The horrific visuals of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia being hand cuffed to a police vehicle and dragged through the streets of Daveyton have outraged people across South Africa and the world. SAPS officers were so brazen as to commit these acts in front of hundreds of members of the public.


It is alleged that Macia, who had a wife and young son, was then taken to the police station and savagely beaten by SAPS officers. Hours later he died from horrific injuries having received no medical attention.

 Sadly, instances of police brutality have become commonplace in South Africa. The images of Andries Tatane and Marikana have been burned into our national consciousness while there are daily reports of criminal behaviour perpetrated by the police. Shockingly, in 2011/12 more than 900 people died as a result of police action or in police custody.

It is recognised that the police and the criminal justice system are overburdened and under-resourced and that this has an enormous impact on the ability to provide safety and justice. However, instances of police brutality and corruption are unacceptable. Officers who stand by while their colleagues break the law are equally complicit.

The police maintain that because the service has approximately 200,000 members there will always be some ‘rotten applies’. But it is the responsibility of police leadership and management to ensure that officers are properly vetted, receive adequate training, are continuously assessed, and that tough action is taken against police who themselves are criminals. Officers who commit crimes very often go unpunished – of the 217 people who died at the hands of the police in Gauteng last year, there has only been one conviction.

On Monday 11 March, the Campaign for Safe Communities will be delivering a memorandum to the Portfolio Committee for Police at Parliament calling for strong action to be taken against police who break the law. For trust and faith to be restored in the police this is imperative.

We will be leaving Ndifuna Ukwazi’s offices (47 on Strand) at 12:00, walk via St. George’s Mall and arrive at Parliament at 13:00 to meet Annelize van Wyk and hand over the memorandum.

Members of the public and the media are invited to attend.

For inquiries please contact:

Axolile Notywala   (mobile) 0742895220


For documents related to the Campaign for Safe Communities please visit





To President Zuma, Minister Mthethwa, Premier Zille and Mayor de Lille,


Khayelitsha police stations occupy “a first position as far as national murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery figures are concerned”, according to a SAPS Crime Intelligence Report contained in court papers submitted by Minister Mthethwa to stop the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha.

Delaying or not fully cooperating with the Commission serves to worsen a spiraling crisis.  Every day at least 1 person in Khayelitsha is murdered. Girls and women live in permanent fear because at least 2 rapes occur every day. Most of the people who are raped are girls under 18. Many more people are stabbed, shot, robbed or beaten daily. No space is safe. Homes, communal toilets, churches, streets, schools, clinics, shops and transport are all places where a criminal minority terrorise the majority of people living and working in Khayelitsha.

These are cases of extreme violence denying people many rights. These rights include the right to life, dignity, privacy, freedom and security of the person, as well as the rights of children and those of accused and detained persons.

There can be no safety for everyone until people in Khayelitsha and all areas (especially informal settlements) seriously affected by crime are safe. Let us start the task with Khayelitsha through the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry.

We address three demands to President Jacob Zuma, Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille:


  1. Minister Mthethwa must stop the legal action against the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry and put political differences aside to work in the interest of all people living and working in Khayelitsha;

  1. President Zuma must ensure the co-operation of all criminal justice agencies with the Commission; and

  1. Premier Zille, in consultation with Mayor de Lille, must explicitly include the City of Cape Town in the terms of reference of the Commission because social and infrastructural development will make communities safer and policing easier. Hearing evidence on the municipal police services are also necessary to ensure safety.

We dedicate ourselves to work with you for a Safe Khayelitsha and a Safe South Africa

Please endorse this position and sign on.

Read the full letter below.


To President Zuma, Minister Mthethwa, Premier Zille and Mayor de Lille,


Khayelitsha police stations occupy “a first position as far as national murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery figures are concerned”. This is according to a SAPS Crime Intelligence Report contained in court papers submitted by Minister Mthethwa to stop the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha.

Delaying or not fully cooperating with the Commission serves to worsen a spiraling crisis.  Every day at least one person in Khayelitsha is murdered. Girls and women live in permanent fear because at least two rapes occur every day. Most of the people who are raped are girls under 18. Many more people are stabbed, shot, robbed or beaten daily. No space is safe. Homes, communal toilets, churches, streets, schools, clinics, shops, and transport are all places where a criminal minority terrorise the majority of people living and working in Khayelitsha.

These are cases of extreme violence denying people many rights. These rights include the right to life, dignity, privacy, freedom, and security of the person – as well as the rights of children and those of accused and detained persons.

Over ten years social movements and organisations have been struggling to get a reasonable plan from every level of government – but especially SAPS – to address crime, with little or no response. Since 2010, they have demanded an independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry into SAPS, municipal police, the justice system, and the causes of crime.

The Constitution empowers a province to appoint a commission of inquiry but provides limitations. In this case, the inquiry is limited to SAPS provincially and the municipal police.

Eventually, after marches, protests, memoranda and the implicit threat of legal action, Khayelitsha-based organisations and their partners persuaded Premier Helen Zille to consider demands to appoint a commission in October 2012. She asked SAPS to respond to a formal legal complaint by the organisations in early December 2011. We hoped that SAPS would have responded immediately. This did not happen.

SAPS’s failure in this regard, in particular Minister Nathi Mthethwa, to engage the Premier or the social movements until 6 months later demonstrates contempt for people in a manner unbecoming of an organ of state. This was partially remedied with the appointment of a new Police Commissioner in June 2012. Commissioner Mangwashi Riah Phiyega engaged the Premier and the Khayelitsha organisations. She appointed a Task Team that engaged with the organisations and did commendable work in a short time frame.

Regrettably, the Task Team’s critical report and the Commissioner’s plan to deal with the Khayelitsha SAPS were never communicated to the organisations or the Premier. The public only learnt of it through Minister Mthethwa’s ill-advised legal action against the Commission.

We understand that addressing crime is not easy and that the police cannot do it alone. There can be no doubt that safety is also about infrastructure such as water and sanitation access, street and area lighting, housing and decent work. This is why the City of Cape Town must participate.

However, the Minister and SAPS cannot hide behind this development imperative. Their constitutional duty is to protect the lives of every person in South Africa and their property. They have a duty to prevent, combat, and investigate crime as well as to apprehend criminals.

Instead, the Minister has initiated a political and legal war with the Premier while people in Khayelitsha continue to experience extremely violent crime. Minister Mthethwa’s resistance and failure to cooperate with the Commission is morally untenable, legally unsustainable, and factually flawed. The O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry is a crucial starting point to address violent crime.