On 8 July 2015 another act of vigilantism was committed in Site C, Khayelitsha. A young man was killed and two others were severely beaten and burnt and remain in a critical condition in hospital.
The SJC and NU strongly condemn these actions – everyone has the right to life and a fair trial. No one has the right to deny another person of these rights – even if that person is guilty of a crime. Our organisations however understand the frustration and anger felt by communities who have lost faith in the State to protect them from criminality.
We recognize that to rebuild trust between communities and the police will take time. The O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry highlighted the spate of vigilante killings in Khayelitsha and that serious intervention was needed to begin making inroads into this extremely troubling practice where individuals and groups take the law into their own hands.
The Commission of Inquiry
The Commission of Inquiry investigated ineffective policing and a breakdown in relations between the SAPS and the Khayelitsha community.
On 25 August 2014 the Commission released its report finding serious inefficiencies and a breakdown between the police and the community although it noted that this relationship can be fixed. The Commission’s final report including its recommendations and other documentation can be accessed here: http://nu.org.za/khayelitsha-commission-documentation/
The Minister of Police’s silence
Since the release of the report the new SAPS Khayelitsha Cluster Commander has created a Joint Forum to work towards giving substance to the recommendations. The Joint Forum brings together SAPS, community-based organisations such as the SJC and NU, researchers and other stakeholders.
As the one-year anniversary of the release of the report approaches, we can commend attempts on the part of an under-staffed and under-resourced SAPS at a local station and cluster level to address the inefficiencies identified. The same however cannot be said for SAPS at a provincial or national level.
Despite numerous attempts to get a response from the Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko, we are no closer to knowing what steps are being taken by the Minister to implement the recommendations that require national intervention. The lack of a response, close to a year later, does a huge disservice to the residents of Khayelitsha. It is also dismissive of the urgency needed to rectify the systemic inefficiencies identified; an urgency underscored once again by the most recent vigilante attacks.
In the coming weeks our organisations will intensify its campaign to ensure that the Minister of Police acknowledges the Commission’s report and details the steps to be taken to make people safer.
The vigilante violence that occurred on 8 July and the many other cases that are unreported demonstrate that people in Khayelitsha still feel that they cannot rely on the police to keep them safe. This also highlights the urgency of implementing the Commission’s recommendations.
For comment please contact:
Chumile Sali (SJC)
071 609 3236
Craig Oosthuizen (NU)
071 611 7237