‘Vigilante violence a sign of wider issue’

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Independent Newspapers

Chairperson Kate O'Regan and former NPA head Vusi Pikoli at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing in the township. Picture: Armand Hough

Cape Town -

The spate of vigilante violence in Khayelitsha is proof that residents do not trust the police, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) said on Thursday.

LRC advocate Pete Hathorn, acting for NGO the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), was making his final oral submission before the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry in Cape Town.

“If one looks at the extent of the vigilante violence... that doesn't occur where policing is taking place effectively,” Hathorn said.

“It's clear from the pattern of evidence... that people in Khayelitsha do not feel confident that if they take a thief to police that it will be dealt with effectively.”

Hathorn was referring to scores of witnesses, including activists and ordinary Khayelitsha residents, who testified in the inquiry. Testimony from senior police officers, showed that conviction rates were very poor, adding to community distrust, Hathorn argued.

“In the course of each month, the Harare police station, which employs 160 to 170 police officers, are producing one or two guilty verdicts a month,” he said.

The commission, which started sitting in January, was established by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille after the SJC complained that police inefficiency was leading to an increase in mob justice killings in Khayelitsha. - Sapa


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