Police Minister Nathi Nhleko
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko

Court bid for equal police resources

By Siyavuya Mzantsi Time of article published Mar 30, 2016

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Siyavuya Mzantsi

AS A last resort to have police bosses dismantle what they described as apartheid-style distribution of resources in poor black communities, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Equal Education (EE) have turned to the Western Cape High Court.

The civil rights organisations yesterday submitted an application at the court seeking to compel Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane to take urgent steps to change the way police human resources are allocated to communities.

Poor areas still bear the burden of apartheid and the police’s resource allocation policy had an immediate impact on people’s fundamental rights to dignity, life and security, they said.

In their 57-page application, they asked the court to declare that the policy and methods of allocating resources be changed.

“This declaration is necessary to vindicate the rights of those who live in poor, black areas and have borne the brunt of irrational and discriminatory distribution of police officers.

“Second, the applicants request a declaration that section 12(3) of the SAPS Act grants provincial commissioners the power to determine the distribution of police resources between stations within their province. This includes the distribution of permanent posts.”

They also seek an order for court supervision of the process of allocation of police resources in the Western Cape.

“The minister and the national commissioner have demonstrated through their respective responses to the Khayelitsha Commission that they do not believe there is anything wrong with the current system. Continued court supervision will be extremely helpful to ensure that the minister and the national commissioner comply with their obligations under the Equality Act and the constitution as quickly as possible.”

Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu and Delft

were among the 10 police precincts with the most murders reported in the 2013/14 financial year, the SJC and EE said.

Earlier this month, a storm erupted about the stark differences between the way the police responded to the murder of 19-year-old Khayelitsha resident Sinoxolo Mafevuka, who was found in a communal toilet after being raped and murdered, and the murder of 16-year-old Franziska Blochliger, whose body was found hours after she was reported missing in Tokai Forest.

In Blochliger’s case, police made arrests within 36 hours, while in Mafevuka’s murder it took police two weeks.

The SJC said more than 300 people were killed in Nyanga during the 2014/15 financial year, while in Camps Bay six people had been murdered in the last 10 years – yet Camps Bay had more police resources.

SJC general secretary Phumeza Mlungwana said:

“If we don’t do this, we run the risk of people saying areas such as Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Manenberg are barbaric and people take the law into their own hands, but forgetting that there are fundamental issues that we are not talking about.”

Nhleko’s spokesperson, Musa Zondi, said: “They must just go to court and we will take it from there.”

Phahlane’s spokesperson, Hangwani Mulaudzi, said: “The SAPS respects the decision by the Social Justice Coalition and Equal Education to seek legal recourse.”

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