Inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha starts

Opening of the inquiry. Photo by Axolile Notywala.

Delphine Pedeboy

14 November 2013

Yesterday marked the official start of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Police Inefficiency in Khayelitsha. It took place at Lookout Hill in the township. Dozens of members of the community, civil society organisations, and the media gathered to witness the first proceedings.

The inquiry is chaired by former Constitutional Court judge, Kate O’Regan, and former Head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Vusi Pikoli.

The inquiry will focus its attention on investigating the activity of three police stations in the area: Harare police station, Khayelitsha, and Lingelethu West.

The process of the commission, which will carry on well into 2014, was described by O’Regan as very much a ‘learning from doing’, meaning that all parties are learning from the procedures as the commission makes headway into solving the issues at hand.

SAPS representatives agreed to make available their domestic violence register, documents relating to the disappearance and loss of firearms, crime statistics, information about mob and vigilante killings, information detailing the psychological and counselling services available to police members, and a wide array of other useful documentation.

A suggestion was also made that the commission should patrol the streets of an informal settlement after dark, to get a better feel for what kind of environment the police operate in. O’Regan said the commission was willing to do so if it would help engage on a more practical level with the issues at hand.

During the commission, an art exhibition will be hosted at the Lookout Hill building, showcasing local artists’ work and documenting the history of Khayelitsha. The hope is that this initiative will ‘give depth to [our] understanding of the situation in Khayelitsha’, said O’Regan.

Phumeza Mlungwana, General Secretary at the Campaign for Safe Communities, said after the meeting, “This is not a punitive commission. The aim of the commission is to generate a dialogue between the police and members of the community”. indeed, by getting to the bottom of current shortfalls in the relationship between police and community, the commission’s aim is to issue recommendations which can then serve as guidelines to help improve SAPS’ service delivery in the future. “The recommendations will serve as guidelines to improve not just SAPS activity in Khayelitsha, but all around the country”, Mlungwana said.

The commission next meets on 25 November. Hearings are expected to take place from 21 January to 22 February and from 24 to 28 March.

For up to date news on the Commision of inquiry and additional information, go to

A correction to this article was made after publication. The date when hearings will begin was corrected.