Cape Town - Khayelitsha police were not merely made up of rotten officers, Western Cape detective services head David Molo said on Thursday.
“There are bad potatos (sic). There are good policemen,” Molo said at the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in the area.
Molo was being asked for his opinion on the quality of detectives at the Khayelitsha, Harare and Lingelethu West police stations.
“If you are looking for a stick to beat a dog, you will get it,” he said.
Several residents had testified that service from police officers - including detectives - was very poor.
Molo said the commission, when compiling its report, should not only look at the negative stories of policing in Khayelitsha, but the positive as well.
The police general was also grilled on the 2011 dumping of DNA kits collected from rape victims in Khayelitsha. The kits - containing DNA samples - were found in a field in Delft.
“The issue was investigated departmentally. We didn't have a criminal case because the person responsible for that was already dead,” Molo said.
However, the commander of the dead investigating officer was disciplined and had since been redeployed.
Molo contradicted the evidence of Genine Josias - a doctor dealing with rape survivors at the Thuthuzela centre in Khayelitsha - who gave her testimony earlier during the hearings.
In January, Josias broke down in tears while testifying about serial rapist Soyisiso Nofemele who was arrested one year after she raised the alarm in 2010. Josias and her colleagues had examined at least five girls under the age of nine who survived violent rapes.
Josias suspected they were the victims of a serial rapist as they were so badly hurt that they had to be examined in hospital under anaesthesia.
In addition, the girls were all raped in bushes in Endlovini, on the outskirts of the township. When she brought it to the attention of a superintendent and a captain, she was not taken seriously.
It took a phone call to then Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros, and a threat to alert the media, for him to order the formation of a task team to probe the matter, the doctor testified.
“Many more girls were raped and I just think they could have done something earlier, you know, to prevent that,” a tearful Josias said at the time.
Molo disputed this evidence, saying he was aware of the serial rapist operating in the area and had put together a task team before Josias brought it to Petros' attention.
Earlier on Thursday, there were more tears when the Western Cape head of the child protection, family violence and sexual offences (FCS) unit, Sonja Harri testified. She spoke about handling cases involving the rape and murder of children in the province.
Harri admitted that the Khayelitsha FCS unit had often failed rape survivors.
“...Because of the performance of FCS Khayelitsha, I several times had to send in a team... to trace suspects,” Harri said.
This included the case of Nofemele, a 26-year-old who was convicted of 11 rapes in 2012.
Harri was asked about Josias' damning testimony.
“The fact that she (Josias) observed that there was a pattern emerging before the police... suggested there was something deeply flawed in that unit?” the legal representative for NGO, the Social Justice Coalition, Ncumisa Myosi asked.
“Yes, I do agree,” Harri responded.
The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after complaints of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.
The move was met with resistance by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa who went as far as the Constitutional Court to block the commission.
Mthethwa lost his court bid in October last year.