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Judgement on SAPS inquiry reserved

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Independent Newspapers

Cape Town -

Judgment was reserved in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday in the application by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa against a commission of inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha.

Mthethwa's advocate Norman Arendse said an interdict was urgent as Western Cape premier Helen Zille's decision to appoint the commission would have an impact on the independence of the SA Police Service (SAPS).

“Appointing a commission of inquiry with coercive powers is an intrusion on the separation of powers,” Arendse said.

He was responding to arguments by lawyers representing Zille, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), and the commission itself.

Peter Hawthorne, for the SJC, told the court Mthethwa's legal team had failed to prove the commission would cause irreparable harm to the SAPS.

Hawthorne agreed the premier's setting up of the commission was an intrusion of the powers of the SAPS.

“It's a constitutionally mandated intrusion the applicants have to live with,” he argued.

Francois van Zyl, acting for the commission, said the aim was not to interfere in police functions.

“The work of the commission would be forward looking...it would focus on systemic issues,” Van Zyl told the court.

The court was packed with SJC activists who led the call for the commission to be established following a string of vigilante killings in Khayelitsha.

Community members complained police inaction had led to residents taking the law into their own hands.

The O'Regan/Pikoli commission was meant to hold public hearings from November 12 to December 14.

The commission has since suspended pending the outcome of Mthethwa's application. - Sapa


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