In August 2012 the O’Regan Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate problems with policing in Khayelitsha was established in terms of section 206(5) of the Constitution. This followed years of sustained campaigning by the SJC and partner organisations including the Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, Ndifuna Ukwazi and Triangle Project. This is the first time that a community and civil society has won the right for this section of the Constitution to be invoked.
Living and working in Khayelitsha members of our organisations have experienced the continued failures of the police and the greater criminal justice system to protect from harm, investigate crime and facilitate justice. We maintain that serious intervention is needed to address these deep and systemic failures. Despite steady decreases in murders nationally and provincially over the past years, Khayelitsha has experienced a 27% increase in the number of murders since 2008/09. In Khayelitsha in 2012 at least 16 people were killed in mob justice murders – a clear indication of the broken relationship between the community and police.
In November 2012 and with the CoI well underway in its investigative phase, Minister Mthethwa and the SAPS brought an application seeking to stop the Commission’s work and to have the entire process set aside. The application was heard before a full bench – Judges Traverso, Yekiso and Saldanha – at the Cape High Court on 13 and 14 December 2012. Judgment was reserved and will be delivered this coming Monday, 14 January 2013.
Protestors hold posters outside the Cape High Court in support of the Commission of Inquiry (Photo by Kate Stegeman)
We reiterate our views that the action taken by the police to stop the CoI is morally untenable, factually flawed and legally unsustainable. As we have noted on numerous occasions, the purpose of the CoI is not to lay blame – it is to establish what is going wrong and develop plans to improve, see where resources need to be allocated and how best agencies can work together. While we recognise that the CoI will not be able to change things overnight, it is the most appropriate vehicle to begin to address the challenges faced by Khayelitsha in terms of safety, violence, crime, policing and justice.
The SJC and partner organisations will be attending the judgment hearing and we will also be holding a protest outside the Cape High Court on the morning of 14 January 2013.
For enquiries please contact Joel Bregman on 0727690100 or Axolile Notywala on 0742895220.
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA ARE URGED TO ATTEND AND SUPPORT!