Zille defends herself - Khayelitsha commission

Zille's lawyer says the commission is not exercising power over the police service.

Helen Zille. Picture: Catherine Rice/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has defended her case in the Constitutional Court after Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa made allegations against the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry.

Premier Helen Zille's lawyer Sean Rosenberg has argued that the commission of enquiry is not exercising power over the police service.

Rosenberg says that "absent any form of subpoena power, clearly the commission would lack any teeth and it would be indistinguishable, in most instances, from an investigation."

Mthethwa's lawyer, Norman Arendse has told the Constitutional Court that the police don't think they are immune to answering to complaints of inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

But he says the Western Cape premier has no powers to subpoena officers to testify at her commission of inquiry and is challenging the legality of the premier's decision to establish the commission.

Arendse argues that the provincial structures only have overseeing powers and cannot subpoena police to answer to complaints by community members. Arendse maintains the police are only obligated to report to national government.

He further argues that the premier side-stepped procedures and should approach the police's civilian secretariat to obtain subpoenas.

Helen Zille's lawyer on Thursday told the Western Cape High Court that she was under increasing pressure to do something about the rise in vigilante killings and defended her decision to establish a commission of inquiry into police inefficiencies in the township.

Zille established the commission in August last year to probe allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

It follows an outcry from NGOs about the rise in vigilante killings in the township.