Pretoria: 11 August 2015 – The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service Police, General Riah Phiyega, has expressed her disappointment on the expressions made by the Premier of the Western Cape on the SAPS response to the Khayelitsha Commission report. The Premier is negotiating in bad faith. The SAPS is fully committed to the process because at the end of the day, our only interest is providing quality safety and security service to the people of Khayelitsha.
Premier Helen Zille’s comments were disingenuous because the National Commissioner went to meet her but she was not in the province. The Acting Premier indicated that we shall be invited back when Zille returned from an overseas trip. We instead received a very lengthy letter to which we responded, and indicated that we still await the opportunity to engage on this matter. The premier opted to hold a press conference instead.
On the matter of the Khayelitsha Commission report, the Premier of the Western Cape established a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha and the alleged breakdown of relations between the community and the SAPS. The SAPS has taken note of this and since the appointment of a cluster commander, Major General Brand, the following has been done: We have worked tirelessly to strengthen relations with community leaders, the religious sector, and other local stakeholders such as the Khayelitsha Development Forum, the Social Justice Coalition, NdifunaUkwazi, and others. We have, as a response to the commission, beefed up the three police stations in the Khayelitsha area with a total of 105 student constables. Actually it is due to the cordial relationship between the police and the communities in these areas that we managed to apprehend many criminals including four suspects two weeks ago in connection with the murder case of Bongiwe Ninini, 20, in Khwezi Park.
The SAPS remains committed to building an additional police station in the area. Land has been identified where the Makhaza Police Station will be built. Construction is expected to start in the new financial year.
The SAPS did not challenge the validity of the commission per se but its “powers to subpoena” any member of the SAPS to appear before the commission as a witness and/or be compelled to present documents. The Constitutional Court opined that the same was not inconsistent with the constitution. The SAPS challenge was not successful in that regard.
- The SAPS cooperated fully with the commission until it finished its work,
- The Premier submitted the recommendations to the Minister of Police as provided for in the constitution,
- The SAPS prepared a detailed and objective response to each and every recommendation which was forwarded to the Minister’s office.
- The Minister directed that SAPS to engage the Western Cape Premier in that regard.
- A high level meeting was then arranged and held on or about 8 June 2015 between SAPS and WC Provincial Government to discuss SAPS response. SAPS delegation was led by the National Commissioner. Acting Premier Madikizela, MEC for Housing, led the provincial government team since Premier Zille was on leave.
- The then Acting Premier Madikizela requested that they should be given time to study SAPS response.
- The Provincial Government responded on 8 July2015.
- The National Commissioner directed that a follow up meeting should be arranged with the Western Cape Premier to discuss the way forward. The office was still in a process to facilitate same.
It is therefore:
- not correct that the Ministry did not respond to the recommendations of the Commission. In fact, the Minister of Police acted and directed SAPS to engage the Premier of the Western Cape.
- The National Commissioner pointed out that upon her appointment she immediately engaged the Province with regards to the Khayelitsha allegations of police inefficiency. She established a Task Team to investigate same. When the Commission was established she was already addressing concerns raised in that regard.
- She did not attack legality nor existence of the Commission. The Constitutional Court challenge was only about the “powers of the commission to subpoena witnesses.
The National Commissioner still maintains that a meeting to address this matter will be arranged with the Premier.
Further, it is unfortunate that Premier Zille distributed a classified document to the public.