SAPS inquiry: witness breaks down

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IOL  ct Khayelitsha Inspection 6139 done INLSA 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 - A witness broke down at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry in Cape Town on Monday.

Zolani Magadla, who sells liquor in the area, hid his tear-streaked face from commissioners and sobbed when asked to relate an event from New Year's eve in 2012.

Commissioners Kate O'Regan and Vusi Pikoli, who are heading the probe into alleged police inefficiency in Khayelitsha, agreed his evidence could stand over.

Just minutes before, an emotional woman testified about her arrest last year on charges of kidnapping, assaulting and murdering two teenagers who robbed her.

Nomamerika Simelela told the commission she and her uncle, Mayedwa Simelela, were locked up by police last year after the two youths who robbed them were beaten and stabbed to death.

Simelela said several community members had apprehended two boys, who were part of a gang who robbed her of money and cellphones as she was preparing to leave for her grandmother's funeral in the Eastern Cape.

Her uncle drove the men to their parents' homes in an attempt to recover the money.

At one of the homes, the uncle said he was confronted by an angry mob who wanted the boys handed over to them so they could be punished.

“One of them grabbed me by the chest. One had a firearm,” Mayedwa Simelela said.

The angry group told him that if the suspects were not handed over, they would set his car alight with the boys inside.

Feeling threatened, he stepped aside before the boys were dragged from the car.

The two boys were later beaten and stabbed to death, but he denied witnessing this, insisting he had left the scene and travelled to the Eastern Cape for his mother's funeral.

When he arrived back in Cape Town, he was arrested.

The case was later withdrawn.

Both the uncle and his niece told the commission they did not initially report the matter to police because they just wanted their stolen items back.

They did not report the kidnapping of the boys, as they needed to go to the Eastern Cape.

They said they did not think the police would have assisted them to get their stolen items back.

If they knew what the community was planning to do with the two suspected robbers, they would have called the police, they said.

The commission completed its third day of public hearings on Monday.

It was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after an NGO, the Social Justice Coalition, complained that police inaction was leading to Khayelitsha residents taking the law into their own hands.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

Sapa



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