Minister Mthethwa in Denial: Disingenuous Challenge To O’Regan/Pikoli Commission

Mthetwa To Go To Court In Attempt to Stall Commission of Inquiry into Policing in Khayelitsha

One of the SJC’s many marches through Khayelitsha in October 2012 to encourage police cooperation and support for the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission.

On 29 October 2012, the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry (CoI), tasked with investigating problems with policing and crime in Khayelitsha, conducted its first hearing. Activists and members of the Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign, Equal Education, Triangle Project and Ndifuna Ukwazi regard this event as a milestone in the struggle to create communities that are safe and secure.

Every person has the right to live a dignified life free from violence whether from public or private sources and the State must uphold this right diligently and without delay.

The first hearing, addressed by Justice Kate O’ Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, was confined to the CoI’s procedural matters. During the hearing, it emerged that the CoI had been asked to stop its work by legal representatives of Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, who planned to lodge an interdict if the CoI did not postpone proceedings of its own accord.

At the same time as the hearing, members of our organisations were attending mitigating arguments for the sentencing of Lawrence Mlulami Gagu, the dance teacher who raped seven school-girls between the ages of 8 and 12 in Nkanini, Khayelitsha. Gagu’s case dragged on for more than two years with many postponements. He was finally sentenced today, 31 October 2012, and received three life sentences. It is understood that he has two previous convictions for rape and another two pending rape cases in the Eastern Cape. Gagu was not on the register of sex offenders.

Minister Mthethwa has failed crime victims particularly women, children and people of working-class and poor communities. Mthethwa and his predecessors have ignored numerous appeals (for almost a decade) to co-operate with our organisations, to address crime and build safe communities.

Led by the Social Justice Coalition, our organisations have struggled for more than two years to get the Western Cape Provincial Government to take its constitutional obligations seriously and to appoint a CoI to investigate problems with policing in Khayelitsha. The Treatment Action Campaign has been advocating for safer communities in Khayelitsha for almost 10 years.

Despite several deadlines to respond with substance to our formal complaint lodged in November 2011, Mthethwa and the SAPS have ignored our organisations’ and the Premier’s requests until recently. A media statement issued today by the Minister’s spokesperson, Zweli Mnisi, confirms that Mthethwa is indeed going to legally challenge the establishment of the CoI and that court papers are to be filed by the end of this week.

Minister Mthethwa is playing politics with people’s lives by wasting State resources in the form of legal manoeuvring to avoid public accountability. His suggestion that the setting-up of the O’Regan/Pikoli CoI is a politically motivated ploy is disingenuous.  He deliberately ignores the struggle of people in Khayelitsha who forced Premier Zille through protests over a two-year period to reach this point.

We call on President Jacob Zuma to ensure the full co-operation of the safety and security cluster with the O’Regan/Pikoli CoI. Minister Mthethwa is not above the Constitution. We also call on Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to ensure that the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate as well as its other arms co-operate fully with the CoI.

For further comment please contact Joel Bregman on 072 769 0100

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