A commission of inquiry’s recommendations on how to improve policing in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, are “doable”, the area’s cluster commander said on Monday. Asked whether the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations were practical, Major-Gen Johan Brand said “definitely”.
“We and the community of Khayelitsha, police forums, the non-governmental organisation, we can do this very easily.”
He was speaking after the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry handed over its 580-page report with recommendations on Monday afternoon. The commission found there was a breakdown in relations between residents and police officers in the area, characterised by a significant level of distrust among residents.
The report listed 11 inefficient policing behaviours that had been identified since Western Cape premier Helen Zille established the commission two years ago. Brand said the police had already planned how to tackle these problems since the preliminary report was released, and had established its own task teams.
“We look at the time frame of within three months to start implementing the multifaceted approach in dealing with the recommendations of the report.”
He said meetings had been set up with complainants and organisations were encouraged to join community policing forums. Speaking at the handover, Zille welcomed the findings and said she established the commission as part of the provincial oversight function.
“It is very important for me to stress that oversight need not be adversarial,” she said, adding that the police service should remain free from political influence.
“I think that this commission will prove to be a watershed in our country because you have made very practical findings and recommendations that are implementable.”
Zille said the province would abide by the recommendations. She would also soon be announcing the appointment of a police ombudsman who would, in many ways, continue the work of the commission in different areas.
“The ombudsman will be able to take complaints, investigate them and make recommendations,” she said.
The report was also welcomed by non-governmental organisations such as the Social Justice Coalition, Ndifuna Ukwazi and Equal Education.
Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Zackie Achmat said the organisation had spent almost 10 years trying to address policing in the area and the related socio-economic issues.
“We think today the commission has affirmed a greater deal of justice for all those victims of crime in Khayelitsha and, I believe, throughout the country,” he said.
Achmat said the commission had done a great job in not pointing fingers and seemed to emphasise with the pain of residents.
“In our view, this cannot be addressed without addressing safe toilets, safe streets, safe lights, safe schools.
“In the end, that is not the job of the police, that is the job of all levels of government together with civil society.” SAPA