Full steam ahead for Khayelitsha inquiry

The Social Justice Coalition hopes the commission will do some good.

Khayelitsha Police Station. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Non-government organisation the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), which initially raised concerns over alleged police inefficiency in Khayelitsha, says it hopes the inquiry will get to the bottom of the issue.

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, validating her right to establish the commission in 2012.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa turned to the courts to try and stop the process, saying the premier didn't have the powers to look into the matter.

The SJC, which represents the Khayelitsha residents, says children continue to kill each other while some have been raped on their way to school.

The premier was under pressure from some civil society organisations to do something about the rise in vigilante killings in the township.

It has one of the highest murder rates in province.

The legal organisation's Zackie Achmat says it's the first time that a province's oversight powers regarding the national police have been tested in the Constitutional Court.

He says Tuesday's ruling is a victory for all local communities where police are not functioning efficiently.

"Every premier and every MEC for community safety has the right and the duty to oversee the police."

Khayelitsha residents say they feel powerless and take the law into their own hands as a result of police not doing their work.

They believe this will now change.

At the same time, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) says it hopes the police will now cooperate with the Khayelitsha commission as it investigates allegations of police inefficiency.

Attorney Sheldon Magardie, who represents the SJC, says the Constitutional Court judgment paves the way for the commission to hold public hearings.

"We hope police will now adopt a cooperative approach."

Recent crime statistics show that 168 murder cases were reported to the Khayelitsha police between April 2012 and March this year.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape government's Zak Mbhele says it's now up to the body to decide when it will hold public hearings.

"The commission, following the appeal of the case to the Constitutional Court, has received a request from Judge Kate O'Regan to have the time frame of the commission extended."