‘We know where to report police’

2016-10-06 06:00
Nandipha Matyana, resident, speaking during policing dialog, at Isivivana Centre, in Khayelitsha, on Thursday. PHOTO: Mbongiseni MASEKO

Nandipha Matyana, resident, speaking during policing dialog, at Isivivana Centre, in Khayelitsha, on Thursday. PHOTO: Mbongiseni MASEKO

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The Social Justice Coalition recently organised an awarenes programme regarding police brutality or abuse in Khayelitsha.

The event was held at the Isivivana Centre at the Khayelitsha Mall last Thursday.

Residents responded in their numbers to the invitation and grabbed the opportunity to participate in the dialogue with enthusiasm.

Also taking part in the dialogue were the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), Nyaniso Ngele, the head of Western Cape Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and advocate Vusi Pikoli, the Western Cape Police Ombudsman.

About 150 residents used the opportunity to share their experience with police officers whom they accused of using excessive force in dealing with them.

Ngele briefed the attendants about his department, which he said, independently investigates any act against the law which was committed by a police officer.

“We investigate any death in police custody or any death committed by a police officer and anything wrong that a police officer is accused of. We then make a report to discipline the police.”

Ngele said although they were government funded, they were independent.

“It is hard to estimate how long an investigation will take, but we try to shorten the time as much as we can,” he said.

Police can search your house without a search warrant if they suspect or they get information about any criminal activity which is taking place at a particular place.

Torture is not legal at all and you must report torture with us.

“When police damage your property, you have a right to complain and also apply for compensation from the state,” Ngele said.

Residents said they did not know about IPID and that they wish to have its office in the area.

Pikoli also said their mandate is to investigate police wrong doings or complains against police, which include delays when police are called and when a complainant is not happy about the investigation of their cases.

“We ensure that police are accountable to members of the community. We investigate poor service delivery by police and also the breakdown in the relationship between the police and community.

We investigate poor response to crime scenes, when police are rude to complainants and many other complaints against police.

The fact is that there is still a problem of crime in Khayelitsha. The question of resources for police is a national crisis,” Pikoli said.

Nandipha Matyana, 39, a resident, said police come late when they are called.

“I called police from Harare Police Station when gangsters were fighting on my street in 2013, but they did not come. I normally call them when my neighbour, who runs an illegal shebeen, plays loud music at night, but they do not come.

My children cannot study at night, because of the loud music. I also opened a case against a woman who abandoned her children last year, but police only responded last week.”

Most people felt good about the dialogue, saying it was an eye opener.

“We did not know where to go when we have complaints against police,” Matyana added.

Chumile Sali, from the SJC, said the dialogue was a huge success.

“It gave platform to residents to engage with the departments where they can report any crime done by the police. It was more educational. It was a big success and it was on high level. They now know their rights which they did not know before,” Sali said.

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