Policing flaws flagged in Khayelitsha

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IOL khayelitsha cops file done CAPE ARGUS A crowd protests at the Khayelitsha police station recently against the killing of a doctor at the Site B hospital. Photo: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - Serious flaws in policing at three Khayelitsha police stations have been identified by the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.

They include crime scenes not being secured, detectives failing to take dockets to court, only 1 percent of cases resulting in convictions, no regular patrols, and unanswered phones.

Highlighting a series of key policing problems in the sprawling township, the commission, led by Justice Kate O’Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli, presented its report to Premier Helen Zille in Khayelitsha on Monday, saying it was clear “policing in Khayelitsha is profoundly challenging”.

The commission found there were serious overlapping inefficiencies at the Site B, Harare and Lingelethu West stations, as well as the Khayelitsha Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit. And there was a breakdown in relations between residents and the police.

“Many cases are simply not investigated properly, or at all. This does not mean that no cases are investigated properly, but the proportion of cases reported to Khayelitsha that result in convictions is tiny, possibly as few as 1 percent,” it said.

Many detectives had a case load of more than 150 dockets, some as many as 200.

“Detectives failed to take dockets to court, which resulted in charges being withdrawn, or cases struck off the roll... there are dockets every week that do not get delivered to court.”

While the police knew about many of the inefficiencies, management in both Khayelitsha and the province “have not fixed them”.

The commission came up with 20 recommendations to beef up policing in the crime-ridden township, including:

* Each police station must adopt a community policing commitment in consultation with residents, in which the police pledge, among other things, that its members will treat people with respect, and will respond to calls for assistance within specified times.

* Adopting a procedural justice model of policing in Khayelitsha.

* Establishing an oversight and monitoring team to ensure inefficiencies are eradicated.

* A change management process for leadership within the Khayelitsha cluster, the family violence unit and the three police stations, to develop a three-to-five-year strategic plan to address inefficiencies and the breakdown in relations between residents and the police.

* A strategic review of detective services in Khayelitsha by the provincial commissioner, and the urgent redeployment of at least 10 experienced detectives to Harare and Site B police stations, as well as backlog teams for all three police stations and the family violence unit.

* A review of the mechanism for determining human resource allocation, to be initiated immediately by the national commissioner.

* A review of the police station performance chart to ensure it contains external measures of public confidence in the police.

* The development of a strategy to deal with vengeance or vigilante attacks.

* Establishing a multisectoral task team to address the problem of youth gangs, to be convened by the Department of Community Safety.

* A provincial task team to survey residents’ attitudes to liquor licensing.

* Various recommendations to improve the policing of domestic violence.

* The appointment of a strategic task team to investigate the use of information technology in relation to the identified problems.

* A review of the procedures by which complaints against police members are dealt with both by the police and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

* A memorandum of understanding to be entered into between the Department of Community Safety and the police to facilitate the department carrying out its constitutional mandate to monitor police conduct and oversee police efficiency.

* An urgent investigation by the police, the City of Cape Town and the metro police as to the optimal use of CCTV cameras in Khayelitsha.

* Urgent steps by the police to improve the physical infrastructure of the Lingelethu West police station, and to prioritise the provision of more office space at the Harare and Site B stations.

* Building a Makhaza police station as a matter of urgency.

Cape Argus



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