Khayelitsha residents distrust police - report

Cape Town - There is a breakdown in relations between Khayelitsha, Cape Town, residents and police officers in the area, according to a report released on Monday.

The report, by the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, found the breakdown was characterised by a significant level of distrust among residents.

However, the commission did not find the breakdown was irretrievable or irreparable.

The commissioners, former Constitutional Court justice Kate O'Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, presented the 580-page report with recommendations to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and city Mayor Patricia de Lille in Khayelitsha.

The hall at Look Out Hill was packed with media, SA Police Service members, lawyers, and residents, many in Social Justice Coalition shirts.

The commission found many reasons for the breakdown in relations. It said the area had a difficult history and burden of poverty.

Residents widely perceived that police did not respond promptly to calls for help and did not investigate crime properly, or at all.

It was found that community policing forums had not contributed significantly to improving relations for a number of reasons.

Complaints against officers had not been dealt with thoroughly, fairly or promptly by either the SAPS or the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

"There is a worrying pattern whereby most complaints are found to be unsubstantiated after very little investigation, even where the complaints are very serious and involve injury to a member of the public caused by a SAPS member," the commission's handover statement read.

The commission found many officers did not understand policing was a service and did not treat residents with respect.

Vulnerable groups, such as those with different sexual orientations and foreign nationals, reported particularly high levels of discourteous and discriminatory treatment.

The report listed 11 inefficient policing behaviours identified since Zille established the commission two years ago.