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O'Regan compares distribution of police resources to apartheid

Adam Armstrong

The list of the most resource-stricken police stations looked similar to "an apartheid list", O'Regan tells Khayelitsha Commission of inquiry.

Kate O'Regan and Vusi Pikoli at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry. (David Harrison, MG)

Jean Redpath, a criminologist at the University of Western Cape, was the first person to testify in the second phase of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry, which started at Lookout Hill this morning. Redpath argued that the formula used to calculate police resource allocation is irrational. The Theoretical Resource Requirement is a complicated formula that SAPS uses nationally to calculate how many officers are the ideal number to deploy to each station. Ms Redpath said that it was too complex and the factors were not weighted appropriately.

Redpath also said that reported crime is markedly different from actual crime. SAPS are traditionally under internal and external pressure to “prevent crime”. This is demonstrated by a reduction in the crime rate. Ms Redpath noted that the reported crime rate will normally go up as policing improves, and then after a number of years it will decrease.

Advocate Norman Arendse, representing SAPS, argued that Ms Redpath’s proposed new formula was simplistic and did not consider the complex nature of the SAPS organisational structure.

Justice Kate O’Regan, who is co-chairing the Inquiry, when viewing a list compiled of the most resource-stricken police stations, commented that it looked similar to “an apartheid list” as it consisted entirely of working-class and poor “Coloured or black” areas. Justice O’Regan asked how it was that such inequality had continued 20 years into our democracy, and suggested that the system designed to oversee resource allocation “is ineffective”.

Last week of public hearings
This week is the last that the Commission is scheduled to sit in public.

Phase 2 consists of submissions from experts on policing. They will respond to evidence heard in Phase 1 and suggest solutions for policing in Khayelitsha. Those set to testify were selected by the complainant organisations, such as the Social Justice Coalition, and the commission’s evidence leaders.

The SAPS Legal Team did not put forward names of any experts to submit evidence in Phase 2.

The full list of the approximately 20 experts expected to testify this week can be found here.

The issues covered will include the interaction by SAPS units stationed in Khayelitsha with the Khayelitsha community and its various forums, sector policing, human resource management, resource allocation, institutional culture, crime statistics, discipline, the policing of specific types of crime such as domestic violence and sexual violence, and the strengthening the detective service.

Phase 1 ran from late in January until April this year. The commissioners identified 29 policing issues that require attention or remediation. These will be discussed during Phase 2.

The Commission is due to submit its final report to Premier Helen Zille on 11 July 2014. This will be given to National Police Commissioner Minister Nathi Mtethwa. The report, however, consists of recommendations and Minister Mtethwa is under no legal obligation to adhere to any of the recommendations emanating from the Khayelitsha Commission. - Groundup.org.za

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