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SAPS commission hears of homophobia

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IOL  ct Khayelitsha Inspection 6139 done

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Khayelitsha Commission chairwoman Kate ORegan talks to advocate Norman Arendse during an inspection of JPS informal settlement in Khayelitsha. They were flanked by police officers Jan Solomons, left, and Sizakele Dyantyi. Picture: JEFFREY ABRAHAMS

Cape Town - Some police officers at station level in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, are homophobic, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

This was the testimony of Funeka Soldaat, from Free Gender, an organisation committed to advocating for the rights of lesbian women.

She took the stand on day four of oral hearings in Khayelitsha for an inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in the township.

Soldaat cited cases where she and others were mocked and disrespected by police officers when they went to Harare police station to report crimes.

“In 2012, one of our members went to lay a complaint... also something to do with rape... there she met a police officer who started violating and mocking her... wanting to know how everything works,” Soldaat, speaking through an interpreter, said.

Soldaat said the woman had laid a complaint with Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer's office.

She was promised officers would look into the matter and the officer involved would face disciplinary action. She heard no more about the matter from police.

Soldaat said in another incident she went to report a theft case to police. Instead a policeman enquired about her marital status and who her husband was.

“I corrected him and told him I don't have a husband, I have a wife.”

She left after a disagreement with the officer and was told to meet him the next day. The officer never showed up.

Soldaat conceded police at management level had established a good working relationship with her organisation but that relationship and respect did not filter down to officers on the ground.

The commission - headed by retired judge Kate O'Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli - began sitting last week.

Premier Helen Zille established the commission after complaints from community organisations that police inefficiency was leading to increased vigilantism, which had already claimed many lives in the area.

The establishment of the commission was delayed after opposition from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who lost his bid to have the inquiry halted in the Constitutional Court last year.

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