Khayelitsha Commission visits 'field of death'

2014-01-22 17:54
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Cape Town - The "field of death" was one of Cape Town's crime hotspots the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry was shown during in loco inspections on Wednesday.

"This is the execution place. If you do something wrong, whatever you do we bring you here and arrest you... there is rape and robbery here in the area... so people are just sick and tired of it," single mother Thobeka Mhlawuli told Sapa.

Commissioners Kate O'Regan and Vusi Pikoli and advocates involved in the inquiry were shown the field, at the Nkanini informal settlement.

The Social Justice Coalition, an NGO, is one of the main complainants at the inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

Several suspected robbers had been necklaced and killed on the sandy field, which doubles as a soccer pitch for children in the area. Necklacing involves placing a car tyre over someone's head and setting it alight.

Most Nkanini residents were hesitant to speak to journalists, fearing police action or retaliation from criminals.

Mhlawuli, however, was unashamed about her support for vigilante justice.

"We don't see police here, so we basically have to fight for ourselves. They never come. They only come when the crimes are finished and done, so what's the use of them?"

She said she witnessed many community arrests, "prosecutions" and executions on the field, carried out by angry and frustrated residents. Asked what would make her stop supporting mob justice, she said "more police visibility".

"When they come here they only go to the shebeens to close them and then they leave. They don't walk around, see things, do patrols, and stay and watch."

Several other hotspots were also visited, so commissioners could see firsthand the areas where crime was rife.

The commission's hearings start in Khayelitsha on Thursday.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille established the inquiry in August 2012 after receiving numerous complaints about police inefficiency in the Cape Flats area.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but it was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

Read more on:    sjc  |  police  |  nathi mthethwa  |  helen zille  |  vusi pikoli  |  cape town

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