Fee bearing image – Cape Town – 140130 – Psychologist, Professor Debra Kaminer gives a statement as a professional witness about social issues caused my violence. The Khayelitsha Commission heard testimonies today at Lookout Hill Town Hall. Reporter: Xolani Koyana. Photographer: Armand Hough

Xolani Koyana

A mother feels let down by the justice system after her son was killed three years ago and has turned to the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry for help.

The woman’s identity is being withheld for her and her daughter’s safety.

Yesterday she told the commission she was fearful after the men allegedly responsible for the murder were released on bail.

Her ordeal began on November 9, 2010 when gunmen pretending to be police officers, stormed her home.

They assaulted her son in the house before they kidnapped him, allegedly over a girl. She called the police, who responded immediately and caught the suspects that same night.

The mother said that, according to a report from the investigating officer, one of suspects had confessed and implicated others.

Her son had been shot five times and his body dumped in the dunes near Monwabisi Beach.

The suspects were found with two cellphones, a DVD player and TV that had been stolen from her house. They also had blood-stained clothing, which police took as evidence.

The men were later charged with kidnapping and murder, the woman said. She and her family attended court cases at the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court but there was not much progress because of countless postponements.

The investigating officer would update her on developments on the case, but then the case was transferred to another detective.

The detective had failed to report on the case and did not answer his phone. The matter was raised with the station commander but nothing was done to rectify the situation.

“The family is not taking this well. They are angry because they feel that the law does not care and if they could take revenge they would. But I have been calming them because I still believe that something could be done,” she said.

Makhaza resident Vuyiswa Mpekweni had a similar story. Her sister’s daughter and her three children were burnt to death in an alleged arson attack. She has been waiting for justice for six years.

Mpekweni said her niece’s boyfriend had handed himself over to the police. When he appeared in court, the docket could not be found and he was released. When it was eventually found the man had fled to Johannesburg and the police failed to locate him.

Mpekweni said she had tried to assist the investigation, including providing the investigating officer with a photograph of the boyfriend. But he did not circulate it.

“The investigating officer told me that I must go find out where exactly he was in Johannesburg. I left heartbroken because he was asking me to a policeman’s job. That is when I lost trust in the police because I was treated badly and the police did not care,” Mpekweni said.

She said she had approached the commission because she thought it could help her.

Commission chairwoman Justice Kate O’Regan told both women the commission could not promise them anything, but would request their case files from the police to ensure they were investigated.

“We are very sorry to hear your story. It is a terrible thing that happened to you and your family… We do hope that this kind of story doesn’t happen again,” Justice O’Regan said.

Earlier Debra Kaminer, an associate professor at UCT’s Department of Psychology and Child Guidance Clinic, spoke about the impact that exposure to violence had on children in Khayelitsha.

A survey conducted in 2008 found that 46 percent of young people had seen a stabbing, putting them at risk of post- traumatic stress disorder.

[email protected]