Most of Khayelitsha is policeable

Members of the Commission tour Khayelitsha. Photo by Adam Armstrong.

Adam Armstrong

27 January 2014

At the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, Phumeza Mlungwana has given evidence.

She is the Secretary General of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and she has lived in Khayelitsha her whole life. She related her experiences of crime and safety in Khayelitsha, and she spoke of the various times she has been robbed and how the police responded.

Mlungwana also addressed her key role in the SJC and the process that led to the formation of the Commission.

A major allegation before the Commission is that the SAPS has been inefficient.

To date, the SAPS legal team has taken the view that Khayelitsha is unpoliceable and the task before them is an impossible one. They argue the SAPS cannot be accused of inefficiency given such conditions.

During two days of testimony, Adv. Arendse and his team placed emphasis on the population of Khayelitsha, the police-to-civilian ratio, and the difficulty of policing informal settlements due to poor lighting and a lack of roads.

Directly contradicting Adv. Arendse’s position, Mlungwana said, “Most of Khayelitsha is policeable”. Almost all of Khayelitsha has roads. Only a few areas do not have road access, and even those areas can be policed with different tactics.

The representatives for the City and SAPS looked uncomfortable as she spoke.

SAPS’s legal counsel has submitted 87 questions for cross-examination.

As a long-standing member of the SJC and a key part of the Commission, Mlungwane’s evidence is significant, particularly as she spoke directly to SAPS’s legal position at the inquiry.