Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry – The Way Forward

Dan Plato, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

Having now had the opportunity to  study the detailed findings of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry and after consulting with my cabinet colleagues, department, and other entities I can now announce the Western Cape Government’s plan of action to ensure the successful implementation of the relevant findings, with the ultimate goal of improving the safety of the residents of Khayelitsha.

The Premier has already provided the National Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, National Commissioner, Riah Phiyega and Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer with a copy of the Final Report in terms of section 206 (5) of the Constitution.

Most of the recommendations are specific to the South African Police Service (SAPS), which the SAPS are expected to manage themselves. Whilst we have constitutional oversight over SAPS in general, the implementation of those recommendations will also be monitored via the oversight team on which a Department of Community Safety (DOCS) official will be appointed, as per Recommendation Three – “Monitoring and Oversight team to ensure inefficiencies at the three Khayelitsha police stations and the Khayelitsha FCS unit are eradicated.”

The following is a summary of the way in which the Western Cape Government will be implementing the recommendations by the Commission that relate directly to DoCS:

–        Mr Deon Oosthuizen, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, from my department has been nominated to serve on the oversight team, which SAPS is tasked with establishing. We will also write to the National Secretariat in order to consult in respect of the Civilian Expert to be nominated jointly, by the National and Provincial Secretariat. The Civilian Expert will be asked to participate and contribute to the work of the said oversight team.

–        With regards to recommendation 17b, as was also suggested by SAPS during the proceedings of the Commission, we will be preparing a draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for discussion with SAPS. The purpose of the MOA will be to clarify and regulate the legislative framework and relationship that exists between DoCS and SAPS with particular reference to dealing with service delivery complaints against policing and conducting unannounced oversight visits to police stations by members of staff within my department. This MOA with SAPS will be a priority for DOCS and we believe this will significantly contribute towards strengthening our working relationship.

–        As part of Recommendation 5, we will be drawing the attention of the National Minister of Police and Civilian Secretariat to the concerns raised around the detective work at the Khayelitsha stations (and in general, across the province) and the solution proposed in the National Development Plan (NDP) that a two tier stream of recruitment be considered. We will be doing this by making the recommendation a Policing Need and Priority in our annual report to the National Minister as is provided for in section 206(1) of the Constitution. This will be in addition to the research work to be conducted by the National Secretariat of Police on the challenges facing the detective arm of the police service.

–        In several of the findings, the role of the Neighbourhood Watches (NHWs) was discussed. To improve the functioning of the NHWs and the relationship between the NHWs, Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and SAPS, my department will be offering additional training modules to CPFs and NHWs about their functions and responsibilities with particular focus on how these community structures can and should complement the work of the SAPS. This will be supplemented by a communication strategy aimed at informing the community and SAPS of what can be expected of the NHWs and CPFs. We want to encourage broad community participation and believe that every effort should be made to build safer communities through community participation.

–        The recommendation that each police station in Khayelitsha should adopt a community policing commitment in consultation with local residents is welcomed and we hope that SAPS will ensure that NHWs and CPF structures adopt some of the elements of the community policing commitment. We believe the shared level of accountability to the community will help build relations with SAPS and show solidarity in providing an efficient and friendly safety service from all safety role-players.

–        Recommendation 8: Other steps to improve relations between SAPS and people of Khayelitsha – Through our innovative Expanded Partnership Programme (EPP) with the CPFs, and the upcoming CPF elections, we want to ensure that the people of Khayelitsha (and all other communities) receive the best possible service from their CPFs. CPFs should remain independent and apolitical and through the upcoming CPF elections we are confident that communities will build stronger relationships with their local Community Police Forum.

–        Another finding in Recommendation 8 relates to the resourcing of CPFs. To address resource challenges we will increase our efforts to achieve optimum functionality of CPFs within Khayelitsha which will increase their access to funding and other resources. CPFs in Khayelitsha and other areas affected by high crime rates will be afforded the opportunity, before the end of October 2014, to develop project plans aimed at the reduction of violence against women and children. These project plans will be considered and funded by the department subject to the condition that the CPFs must demonstrate its ability to adequately perform its statutory functions as set-out in section 18 of the SAPS Act.

–        We will be meeting with academics in the field of safety and conflict mediation to look at how best to provide community mediation services.

–        Recommendation 11: Vengeance Killings and Attacks (Vigilantism) – the Commission has recommended that DoCS should convene a forum of local school principals, churches and religious intuitions, CPFs, NGOs and community based organisations, SAPS managers and researchers to develop an integrated public education programme aimed at preventing vengeance attacks and killings. We will be contacting the relevant stakeholders and setting up this forum shortly. This will also be central to the already scheduled programme of community engagements on the Policing Needs and Priorities for the police cluster on 20 September 2014.

–        Recommendation 12: A multi-sectorial task team on youth gangs to be established by DoCS. I have already engaged my colleagues to nominate suitable representatives from the relevant departments, and will be engaging other role-players shortly as suggested by the Commission. The Western Cape Department of Social Development will be a key partner here as they are the lead department tasked with the implementation of the provincial youth development strategy and have a number of structures already in place dealing specifically with youth safety and substance abuse. The Commission made reference to the role of a number of national departments, and as such we believe that the Department of Justice and South African Police Service will have an integral role to play here.

–        Recommendation 13: Provincial Task Team to survey community attitude to unlicensed liquor outlets in order to assist policy formulation. The purpose of the task team is to develop policy recommendations based on the findings of the survey with the community. I have consulted my colleague, Alan Winde, the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, who will be tasking the Western Cape liquor authority to be a key partner in this research project. We will also be engaging the National Secretariat, SAPS and the City of Cape Town including the Metro Police in terms of their role on the task team, as recommended by the Commission.

–        Recommendation 14: Domestic Violence: Various Measures Proposed – the Department of Community Safety will train CPF members on the Domestic Violence Act. This training will be rolled out to all CPFs in the province and will also be extended to NHWs. The Domestic Violence Act training will form part of DoCS training curriculum for safety organisations as mentioned above.

–        Another element to Recommendation 14 will be for DoCS to create a platform for members of the public to raise concerns or complaints regarding SAPS conduct in enforcing the Domestic Violence Act. Through the Police Ombudsman’s office, which will be established in line with our Community Safety Act within the next few weeks, the public will be able to report any complaints of this nature.

–        As required by Recommendation 20: Urgent need to address backlogs in national chemical laboratories in Cape Town, I will be bringing this to the attention of the Premier. It is important to note that I have already raised concerns regarding the backlog with my cabinet colleagues, Theuns Botha, Minister of Health, and Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works.

My department shall intensify its efforts to build capable partnerships with the NGOs and Religious Fraternity within Khayelitsha. On 22 September 2014, the first Mobile Safety Kiosk will be deployed in the area in partnership with Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrade (VPUU). We have also trained and deployed more than 30 Young People, supported by the department, within Khayelitsha in partnership with VPUU.

We have increased our support to the night soccer league operated by Amandla Edu-Football within Khayelitsha and have set aside a minimum amount of R500 000 for the Youth, Safety and Religious Programme for the December school holidays for Khayelitsha and another R2.5 million for other priority areas within the Western Cape. Adverts will be placed in community papers within the next few weeks inviting religious organisations in the province to partner with the department in reducing the opportunities for children to become victims of crime by creating constructive programme for them during school holidays.

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us, but I am confident that we will achieve these goals.

Notwithstanding that the bulk of the recommendations relate to action required of SAPS directly, my department intends to carefully consider and if appropriate then adopt the applicable recommendations as part of our assessment of this Provinces’ Policing Needs and Priorities in terms of section 206 (1) of the Constitution. We want to ensure that the hard work of the Commission and the people who provided evidence to the Commission is made visible within our own plans and policies for the on-going prevention of crime in the Western Cape.

While my department will start with the work required as outlined above, I will be tabling the full report of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry in the Provincial Legislature for debate so that the multi-party Standing Committee on Community Safety can formalise its oversight over both the SAPS and my department in terms of the implementations required.

While much of the report’s findings relate to work that the SAPS need to do, there is also a role for civil society to play. The solutions require a whole of society approach and my department will be playing its role in capacitating safety structures outside of the SAPS, such as CPFs and NHWs to better perform their duties, to work with the SAPS, and be the eyes and ears of the community. We believe that by working together Khayelitsha will be a safer place for all.

I welcome the Provincial Commissioner’s support of the Commission’s findings and look forward to a positive working relationship with the shared goal of improving policing for the residents of Khayelithsa and the wider Western Cape as a whole.

The findings are presented in a very practical manner which will allow many of them to be implemented as quickly as possible.

I have full faith in the National Minister as well as General Lamoer’s ability to adopt and implement these recommendations, together with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety. The public deserve a quality police service, and by working better together, this can be achieved.