Zille refuses to expand police probe
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has rejected calls to expand the scope of the commission of inquiry into the frosty relationship between the police and Khayelitsha residents.
Zille argues that it would be unlawful to extend the probe to cover the City of Cape Town Metro Police, the Department of Justice and the National Prosecuting Authority.
Zille established the commission in August to investigate alleged police inefficiency and a breakdown in relations between the community and the police in Khayelitsha.
This came after several acts of vigilantism claimed lives in the township. But civil society groups are demanding more from the commission of inquiry.
Social Justice Coalition, Treatment Action Campaign, Triangle Project and others want the inquiry to extend beyond the role of the SA Police Service to include other actors in the criminal justice system.
The inquiry is led by former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli and former Constitutional Court judge Kate O'Regan. They are expected to submit their findings and recommendations within six months after the commission's establishment.
Yesterday Zille confirmed that civil society organisations have asked that the commission's terms of reference be broadened.
"I cannot do this because the SA Police Service Act specifically grants power to community safety MEC Dan Plato to investigate and deal with complaints against the metro police, which he is doing. The complaints against the metro police, have also been forwarded to the City for its comments," she said.
"Metro police would have been within its rights to legally challenge its inclusion in the terms of reference of the commission had I included them. I have been advised that it would, in fact, have been unlawful to do so."
Zille said she could not include the department and the NPA in the inquiry because the country's Constitution only empowered provinces to monitor and oversee the police, not the public prosecuting authorities or the courts.
"I have no constitutional mandate to exercise oversight of these institutions," she said.
Social Justice Coalition senior researcher Joel Bregman confirmed that they had called for the change of reference in the commission.
"We want the metro police, the department of justice and the NPA to be included in the investigation of policing in Khayelitsha."
"The metro police, like members of the SAPS, play a key role in maintaining law and order in society."
Bregman said there had been complaints that the city's anti-land invasion unit was conducting its raids in an improper way.
"They damage people's property in many raids in the Mother City and we are very concerned about that," he said.
Funeka Soldaat, chairperson of Free Gender, which fights for lesbian rights in Khayelitsha, said many people did not understand the metro police's role in communities.
"There should be clarity on their role. That's what we want them to be part of the investigation by the commission. Organisations and residents have high expectations of the commission," she said, adding that many cases remain unsolved.