Four years after the completion of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing in one of Cape Town’s poorest suburbs some headway has been made into implementing the 20 recommendations submitted after its conclusion.
But residents living in the sprawling suburb of Khayelitsha about 30km from the city centre are far from being any safer.
Statistics paint a bleak picture of increasing violent crime since commission chairpersons Judge Kate O’Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli found there was a breakdown in relations between community members and police officers in the area characterised by a significant level of residents’ distrust of the police.
In 2014, a total of 353 murders were reported collectively to the Khayelitsha, Harare and Lingelethu West police stations. During the last financial year, this increased to 397.
Illegal gun and firearm possession – crime detected as a result of police action – stood at 268 reported in 2014. This increased to 364 last year.
Aggravated robbery stood at 2 415 reported incidents four years ago. In the latest crime statistics, the number rose to 2 950.
Both Khayelitsha and Harare police stations are in the top 10 precincts for most murders reported in 2016/2017 nationally.
So, when will the effect of the multimillion-rand commission be felt by those who call this crime-ridden community home?
New police station
Social Justice Coalition’s co-head of programmes Dalli Weyers said it is hoped that the impact will be felt beyond 2020, once a new police station is established in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.
This would hopefully result in an improved police to population ratio, allow easier access to a police station and see a quicker police response time, he explained.
Premier Helen Zille – who appointed the commission of inquiry – recently confirmed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) plans to start construction within the 2018/2019 financial year and aims to complete the project by 2020.
Along with the station, the area needed “more boots on the ground”, she said.
“We won’t see improved results from a new police station if the intention is to simply spread police officers out more thinly.”