Police to bridge gap with Khayelitsha

NGO’s and activists agree that police need to bridge the gap between themselves and the community.

SAPS on the scene. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Non-government Organisations and human rights activists warned on Thursday that the relationship between Khayelitsha residents and police was strained.

However, they hoping a new commission of inquiry set up to probe police related complaints would fix this.

It's alleged there has been a systematic failure of the police to prevent, combat and investigate crimes in Khayelitsha.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said, "The only reason I am establishing a commission is that there has been no focused response to particular complaints. They have not been investigated and there has been no follow up as to what is being done to rectify them."

The Women's Legal Centre's Sanja Bornman said the commission should also look into complaints against metro police.

"We believe that metro police, even though they're not national police, are still very much part of the policing system in Khayelitsha. As much as what the relationship between Khayelitsha and SAPS has broken down, the community also has no relationship with metro police."

Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said, "It's a step in the right direction. The commission will identify a wide range of policing issues. Issues we can use in the future in how best to re-dress the complaints against SAPS."

Human rights activist Zaki Achmat said the community wants answers.

"If communities are given the opportunity to be heard and their frustration explained and is publicly acknowledged by those in power, it will be a way in which the community will see people taking them seriously."