Khayelitsha Commission: Steady Progress in Implementing Recommendations
Three years after the completion of its work, steady progress is being made in the implementation of the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.
Premier Zille established the commission in 2012, to investigate the alleged breakdown in the trust relationship between the SAPS and the community of Khayelitsha. The Commission was chaired by Judge Kate O’Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli. The final report and recommendations were handed down in August 2014.
A task team was formed in 2015 to facilitate the implementation of the 20 recommendations made by the commission. This was a significant step in building a working partnership that would oversee that process. The team meets on a regular basis to monitor progress and iron-out areas of concern. It includes senior representatives from the SAPS, the Department of Community Safety, and civil society.
Feedback from the task team and various stakeholders involved points to a marked difference in the working relationship of participants in the safety space in Khayelitsha – a significant change in the right direction.
Progress has been made in several areas including:
- The appointment of additional detective resources in Khayelitsha. This has also lead to a significant reduction in the number of case docket backlogs from 3 400 cases in 2014 to 1 601 in June last year. At the same time, the number of case dockets per detective has reduced to 65 per member, compared to 100 at the time of the Commission;
- The filling of crucial leadership and management posts across all stations, which has brought a greater level of stability;
- The establishment of a Monitoring and Oversight team comprising SAPS top leadership, and officials from the Department of Community Safety to monitor SAPS inefficiencies;
- The roll-out of a Neighbourhood Watch Strategy by the Department of Community Safety, which ensures the accreditation, and training of neighbourhood watch groups to patrol high risk areas;
- The steady reduction of vigilante killings in Khayelitsha;
- The establishment of a Priorities Committee which meets on a monthly basis to discuss the strategy and coordination of the Anti-Gangsterism Strategy in the Province; and
- A survey of community attitudes on illegal liquor outlets in Khayelitsha. The findings will be published soon.
We commend the role of the SAPS, through its provincial Commissioner General Khombinkosi Jula and the Khayelitsha Cluster Commander Major General Brandt, who have led the process from their end.
We also commend the role of the Community Policing Forum, civil society groups and the broader community for taking a whole-of-society approach in bringing about a safer environment. No other province has pushed the envelope this far in holding national government to account for their policing mandate.
Some of the key achievements in the implementation process include:
- Recommendation 3: Establish a Monitoring and Oversight Team to ensure inefficiencies at the Three Khayelitsha Police Stations and the Khayelitsha Family, Child and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit are eradicated
The Commission found that one of the causes of inefficiencies at the three Khayelitsha police stations and the Family, Child and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit was the failure of management to ensure that problems identified are addressed. The Commission therefore recommended that the Provincial Commissioner should establish a Monitoring and Oversight Team (M&O) to ensure that the inefficiencies are addressed.
The Monitoring and Oversight Team was successfully established on 6 December 2016 consisting of:
1. The Cluster Commander – representing provincial management and cluster management;
2. The Deputy Cluster Commander – representing the station commanders and detectives; and
3. Representatives of the Department of Community Safety.
The Monitoring and Oversight Team has twenty-six focus areas. These responsibilities vary from administrative to operational, including:
- Monitoring dockets not brought to court and ensuring that necessary steps are taken where it happens;
- Monitoring the workflow of the detectives and Family, Child and Sexual Offences Unit; and
- Monitoring the Community Policing Forums and Neighbourhood Watch operations.
- Recommendation 4: Urgent Change Management Process by the Leadership of Khayelitsha Cluster, Khayelitsha FCS Unit and Three Khayelitsha Police Stations
Several leadership vacancies and inefficiencies were identified by the commission. The commission recommended stability in the leadership team for a 3-5-year period. Since then, changes to leadership and the appointment of permanent staff has brought stability to the precinct.
The changes include the appointment of Major General Brandt as the Cluster Commander since August 2014. Brigadier Hosking was also appointed as Deputy Cluster Commander in July 2016. Six other leadership vacancies have also been filled.
Feedback points to a greater level of stability and direction due to the filling of essential posts.
- Recommendation 5: Urgent Strategic Review of Detective Services at all Three Khayelitsha Police Stations and the FCS Unit
The commission criticised the ability of the SAPS to investigate crime effectively and made specific recommendations concerning the detectives at the three police stations. It was recommended that the number of detectives be increased, specifically at Harare and Site B.
To resolve this, Khayelitsha has been granted 170 detectives across the three stations. Currently there are 156 detectives servicing three stations, while SAPS is in the process of recruiting the outstanding resources.
Part of the recommendation was to establish a backlog reduction system for unresolved dockets at all three stations.
In response, an Inquest Backlog Team was appointed to clear the backlog.
By June 2016 they had reduced the backlog from 3 400 cases in 2014 to 1 601.
By 1 September 2016 the number of case dockets per detective had reduced to 65 per member, compared to 100 at the time of the Commission. The standard has been maintained in line with the National standard for case dockets per detective.
- Recommendation 6: Provincial Commissioner to issue Guidelines for Visible Policing in Informal Settlements
While the mandate to set out these guidelines lies with the national government, the joint task team has been working to implement a strategy within the law and available resources to deal with the problem.
One of these strategies has been the Neighbourhood Watch Strategy, driven by the Department of Community Safety in collaboration with the various stakeholder partners.
The Department has been facilitating the accreditation of neighbourhood watch groups since October 2016, following enabling aspects of the provincial Community Safety Act coming into full effect.
By June 2017, seventy-six neighbourhood watch groups had been accredited by the Department of Community Safety; four of which were in Khayelitsha (Ilitha Park, Site C, Ayethu in Lingelethu West and Mthuma Fighters in Khayelitsha).
Neighbourhood watch groups have been provided with training, while others are on schedule to receive the same.
The goal of the neighbourhood watch groups is to conduct regular patrols of high risk areas.
Through the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer additional neighbourhood watch members have been recruited and resourced in Lingelethu West to patrol the area and to monitor liquor outlets.
- Recommendation 11: Vengeance Killings and Attacks (Vigilantism)
While a record keeping system and methodology to monitor vigilante killings more effectively is being developed by the SAPS, the extent of the vigilante violence has decreased.
From 74 incidents in 2014/15, to 72 incidents in 2015/16 and a sharp decrease to 45 incidents in the 2016/17 year.
While there has been a decline in these incidents, we maintain that one killing or attempted murder is one too many. We will continue to work to ensure this figure comes down to zero.
- Recommendation 12: A Multi-Sectoral Task Team on Youth Gangs to be established by the Department of Community Safety
The national cabinet has approved a National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy. This National Anti-Gang strategy has been discussed at various stakeholder structures including the provincial SAPS, NPA and other bodies.
Established in May 2017 the Priorities Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss the strategy and coordination of the Anti-Gangsterism Strategy in the Province.
The Priorities Committee has representatives from the SAPS, NPA, State Security Agency, Department of Justice, Department of Correctional Services, Department of Social Development, the Western Cape Education Department, the Department of Community Safety and the City of Cape Town. The Priorities Committee will continue to develop a clear action plan for all the role players involved.
- Recommendation 13: Provincial Task Team to Survey Community Attitudes to Unlicensed Liquor Outlets in order to assist Policy Formulation
As part of its Alcohol Harms Reduction game changer programme, the Department of Community Safety commissioned Professor Richard Matzopoulos of UCT to conduct a survey and qualitative research study of community attitudes to alcohol usage in Khayelitsha.
The study draws the link between drinking and experience of violence, as well as a link with higher levels of depression among young people.
Study participants recommended:
- Stricter licencing processes and regulations at all points in the distribution chain;
- Enforced trading hours – a need to strengthen the law enforcement role of SAPS, municipal law enforcement and the liquor authorities;
- Shebeeners, tavern owners and drinkers believe that SAPS are important role players in keeping Khayelitsha safe and should take action in respect of patrons found with weapons or against drunk people on the street;
- More support given to neighbourhood watch groups and community police forums in order to monitor liquor outlets; and
- An increase in the involvement of the Department of Community Safety.
A key development in alcohol harms reduction took place in April 2016 when the Department of Community assumed executive authority for the Western Cape Liquor Authority in terms of the Western Cape Liquor Act, 2008. One of the objectives of this transfer was to ensure that a community safety perspective becomes integral in the administration of liquor regulation.
Representatives of the Liquor Authority recently attended one of the Task Team meetings to give an overview of their priorities in terms of liquor regulation enforcement.
There are over 8 000 licenced premises in the Western Cape and 111 of them are in Khayelitsha. Whereas in the past the Liquor Authority did not monitor illegal outlets, the new regulations require liquor inspectors to issue a notice of illegal trading. Additional budget has been allocated to focus on the upstream prosecution of the distribution of alcohol to illegal outlets by license holders and liquor distributors.
- Recommendation 16: Handling of Complaints by Police Stations in Khayelitsha, Nodal Point and IPID
The Commission recommended that the outcome of all complaints against SAPS members operating at Khayelitsha be referred to the Monitoring and Oversight Team. At the time, the Commission expressed concern with the manner in which investigations were conducted by IPID. It further noted the challenges in properly staffing IPID to ensure it had adequate resources to carry out its mandate.
The task team remains concerned about the shortage of staff and specialists at IPID. However, another intervention has since been introduced by the Western Cape Government, to strengthen the investigation into allegations of poor policing.
The Western Cape Police Ombudsman (WCPO) was established in 2015 in terms of the Community Safety Act 3 of 2013.
In terms of S16, the Ombudsman’s office – which is currently led by Advocate Vusi Pikoli – investigates complaints regarding allegations of police inefficiency or a break down in relations between the police and community.
During 2015/16 and 2016/17 the Ombudsman dealt with 22 complaints emanating from Khayelitsha police stations. These complaints dealt with lack of communication, poor investigation, poor response times and unacceptable behaviour.
It has been an effective mechanism to date.
Key areas of concern
While the Commission’s recommendations have received a great deal of attention and are being steadily implemented, we are aware that several key areas remain a concern. We continue to work within the structures of the Task Team, and in partnership with other stakeholders, to pursue their implementation.
These recommendations include:
- As part of Recommendation 5, leadership and staffing issues were identified at the Family, Child and Sexual Offences (FCS)Unit. These issues still persist, in the main – affecting the effective functioning of this crucial unit;
- The implementation of Recommendation 7 is currently subject to litigation instituted against the Minister of Police and others by the Social Justice Coalition and Equal Education in the Equality Court. It relates to the Revision of SAPS’s System for Determining the Theoretical Human Resource Requirement of Police Stations, and the Urgent Reallocation of Human Resources to the Three Khayelitsha Police Stations. This mandate rests with the national minister of police and is yet to be implemented by his office;
- As part of Recommendation 8, SAPS have failed to release monthly crime statistics at station level. This, again requires the national minister’s sign-off, which is yet to take place;
- As part of Recommendation 19, there is still a need for a new police station at Makhaza, SAPS is responsible for this infrastructure; and
- As part of Recommendation 20, there remains a need to address to the backlogs in the National Chemical Laboratories in Cape Town. This hinders the delays in the processing of samples hinders investigations.
We will continue to pursue all the available channels, including discussions with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, to ensure the successful implementation of all the recommendations. While there has been a significant move in the right direction, the Minister is yet to express a concrete commitment to this process.
The Western Cape Government remains committed to working with SAPS and the Khayelitsha community to bring about greater safety in the area.