Police ‘just sat in their car’

Xolani Koyana

NONTEMBEKO Nduna and Malwande Msongelwa live in different sections of Khayelitsha but have the same complaints about police bungling investigations and police inefficiency.

The two women, and members of the Social Justice Coalition, testified before the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into alleged police inefficiencies.

Nduna told the commission she did not trust the police.

She had been treated badly while lodging four criminal cases, two against the police, in a space of three years and it came to nothing, she said.

In 2012, Nduna’s niece was killed by a speeding police vehicle in Site C, an incident witnessed by residents. Nduna was in Hermanus at the time.

She said residents were angry about the incident and stoned the police vehicle.

At the time police refused to open a case, Nduna said.

Two days later police officers went to the home and insisted she make a statement despite her telling them she had been out of town when the incident happened.

A case was opened and went to court, but had been through numerous delays, Nduna said.

Nduna said one of the main witnesses, a neighbour, had eventually lost interest in going to court due to the delays.

There was no feedback to the family about what had happened to the case and her sister died later without the case being finalised.

“I do not trust the police. It will take some time for me to realise that there are police or the law looking out for us,” Nduna said.

Another complaint was against a group of officers who allegedly stole her cellphone and money after assaulting a relative in January last year. She reported the matter to the police station, but was told she did not have a case, Nduna said.

Malwande Msongelwa’s brother was stabbed to death in September 2011. His body had been found near a bus stop not far from their Makhaza home.

She said they suspected a known “thug” in the area to be responsible for the stabbing.

Msongelwa said she and other residents had called 10111 several times but a police van never came.

She then called the area’s cluster commander on his cellphone and the police were on the scene within 15 minutes – two hours after her brother’s body was found.

“The police stood at a distance. They could see the crowd standing there near the bus stop, but they did not come to us. They just opened their window and sat in the car. We approached them and asked why they were not going to the scene, but they became abusive and said we must not tell them what to do or they would leave,” Msongelwa said.

She said the police eventually went to check on the body, but neglected to cordon off the scene or cover the body. No witness statements were taken.

A suspect handed himself over to the police two days later, but the police told the family that he was innocent.

Advocate Norman Arendse SC, appearing for the police requested the case number and said he would look into the matter.

“What was described by the witness today is totally unacceptable,” Arendse said.

“This is so far the most egregious example of police insensitivity and incompetence. As the representative of the police we feel for the witness and her family. It’s this kind of police conduct that does not belong in civil society,” Arendse said.

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