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Cape Town - Police response time, insufficient visible policing and bungled cases were among the claims made on the fourth day of the public hearings of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.
Headed by retired judge Kate O’Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, the inquiry was established by Premier Helen Zille after complaints from local organisations about police inefficiency and a breakdown in relations between police and the community.
Hearings have been taking place at Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha.
Madoda Mahlutshana, principal of Chris Hani Senior Secondary School for the past five years, said on Tuesday that
in his experience, the elements of criminality manifested themselves in gangsterism, vandalism, drugs and burglaries at the school.
He told the commission that gangs’ infighting spilled over into the school grounds. He had confiscated a “mini-museum” of knives, pangas and other weapons that pupils claimed they carried for “protection”. There were often fights after school and Mahlutshana liaised with parents and dealt with the incidents in terms of the school’s code of conduct.
Leading evidence, Thembalihle Sidaki asked Mahlutshana about his general experience with the police in the area.
Mahlutshana said it was generally good, but that contacting the station and the response to call-outs “has not been the best”.
In four years the school had experienced about six or seven burglaries and no arrests had been made. “We’ve lost so many resources.”
He said that even when they provided leads to the police, nothing came of the investigations.
He told of “riots” at the school in September, 2011, but when he called the police they sent a single police van.
“Those two policemen were so overwhelmed – the children were all over, breaking government property.”
He did not believe that police were incompetent, but following meetings with parents, it was clear they were not doing enough to help residents.
He commended the local Community Policing Forum (CPF), singling out the Harare CPF. “They’ve been a visible backbone supporting us.”
Zola Secondary School principal Xolela Mjonondwana said the school was burgled seven times in 2012. He told how the school’s governing body had agreed to trap the burglar – hiring a watchman to monitor the perpetrator’s modus operandi.
They caught the burglar, who then took them to the person he had sold the stolen items to. The suspect escaped.
Mjonondwana accused the police of bungling the case. He said they had not taken the issue seriously and there was not enough visible policing in the area.