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Cape Town - The attitude of officers at Khayelitsha police stations in Cape Town contributes to problems not being solved, a retired police officer said on Monday.
“It comes down to taking responsibility for what you are doing. A lot of the time it comes down to the attitude of members. Attitude plays a big role in this,” said former deputy provincial commissioner of operations Glenn Schooling.
“In all fairness, when you have to comply with instructions in a register you must do it.”
Schooling said the only other possible explanation why problems were not solved was a lack of time and training.
He was testifying at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry in Cape Town on a strategy he introduced to address crime in the area in 2003, after it was identified as a presidential priority.
Commission chairwoman Kate O'Regan noted that she had seen a range of reports over the years identifying problems at the area's police stations.
“What doesn't seem to be apparent is any actual action other than the reporting of problems,” she said.
Schooling agreed and said the only indication something had not gone well was when the following year's inspection report was made available.
He explained that every police station was required to conduct first and second level inspections, every 24 hours and week respectively.
With the first level inspection, the relief or community service centre commander had to check the occurrence book, all registers, and cross-check monetary amounts and figures, for example.
Schooling had an opportunity to inspect the occurrence books of the Harare, Lingelethu West, and Khayelitsha police stations and found they were partly compliant.
“In some instances, yes, there are first level inspections done, not always at the quality I was trying to explain now, but they were done.”
However, instances where junior officers such as constables were quite often tasked with these inspections was problematic.
“He's the lowest-ranking officer there. I will admit he did a beautiful first inspection... But in my eyes it's wrong,” Schooling said.
“Why is the responsibility of rank-bearers being pushed down on this constable?”
The purpose of the weekly second level inspection was to check whether first level inspections had been done properly and to solve any problems still outstanding.
Schooling was asked what happened if these second level inspections were not done.
“Nothing. Even when the provincial inspectorate inspects it... It dies. Nothing happens,” he said.
The inspectorate and provincial commissioner should have more power over station commissioners.
“They should have teeth to bite with.”
The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille to probe accusations by civil society formations that police inaction was leading to an increase in “mob justice” killings in the area.
The Social Justice Coalition alleged police inefficiency was leading to criminals running rampant in the sprawling township, and residents being forced to take the law into their own hands.
The commission's activities were delayed for some time when Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to have the inquiry scrapped.
Mthethwa lost his legal bid to stop the commission in the Constitutional Court in October last year.
The first phase of hearings was expected to end on February 21. - Sapa