Cape Town - A march in support of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing got off to a slow start on Monday, with 30 to 40 supporters gathering on the corner of Mew Way and Lansdowne Road.
The much-anticipated findings of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry was set to be handed over to Premier Helen Zille on Monday.
To celebrate the report’s presentation, the Social Justice Coalition, along with the Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, Ndifuna Ukwazi and others, planned to gather at Lookout Hill, in Khayelitsha, before the official release to raise awareness and to show their continued commitment to the process.
“This is truly a significant day; never before has a community and civil society used the constitution to hold police to account in this manner,” the coalition said.
The commission was established by Zille two years ago to investigate complaints about police inefficiency at three police stations in Khayelitsha and the breakdown in relations with the police.
Public hearings were held from January to May and the commission, led by Justice Kate O’Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli, heard evidence from more than 100 people including Khayelitsha residents, police, government officials and experts.
Zille and her Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, will officially receive the commission’s 500-page report during a handing-over ceremony at Lookout Hill this afternoon.
Plato said he was anxiously looking forward to the commission’s report and would study it thoroughly.
The MEC said he would discuss the findings with the Western Cape police. “This report is not a tool to criticise police, but instead will look at how to improve the effectiveness of police in general,” he added.
Dubbing the occasion a historic day for safety and justice in Khayelitsha, the Social Justice Coalition said it was confident that the commission would find that there had been ineffective policing in the area.
“For an area that consistently records some of the highest levels of serious crime in the country, including murder and sexual assault, that has experienced dozens of vigilante killings in recent years and has an overburdened and under-resourced police and criminal justice system, in conjunction with the evidence before it, we are confident that the commission will find that there has been ineffective policing and a breakdown in relations,” the organisation’s Joel Bregman said.
While conceding things would not improve overnight, the coalition said many of the problems facing Khayelitsha’s police were systemic and required serious, long-term intervention.
“By identifying the key problems and proposing solutions to begin addressing them, the commission has provided a crucial starting point,” said Bregman.
“We are excited to see what recommendations the commission has developed to address safety and policing in Khayelitsha.
“While the focus was on a specific area, we are confident that the report will have a national impact.”
He said while much of the evidence was about problems created by the police, the coalition could not ignore the extremely difficult conditions under which police worked and the lack of support they received.
“If we want to improve safety and justice, the police need to be given the tools to safely and efficiently conduct their work.”