8 November 2012

South Africa: Khayelitsha Inquiry Suspended

Western Cape premier Helen Zille will oppose an application filed by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police leadership challenging the establishment of the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry, she said on Thursday.

The commission is investigating allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

"We have indicated that we intend to oppose the application," Zille said. "Our lawyers are currently studying these papers to prepare our responses to their legal arguments."

On Tuesday, lawyers acting for Mthethwa, General Riya Phiyega, Lt-Gen Arno Lamoer and others filed papers in the Western Cape High Court to have the commission temporarily suspended, pending a review of the decision to establish it.

All parties had agreed to postpone the court application to December 10 and would be made an order of the court on Monday, she said.

Postponing the hearing would allow lawyers adequate time to study the application.

"Part of this agreement is that the public hearings intended to begin on 12 November will not proceed and no effect will be given to the subpoenas issued to the SAPS," she said.

"However, this does not mean that the commission itself has been suspended and the other investigative work being done by the commission is not affected by this agreement."

The commission said earlier it had been suspended.

"The minister of police and seven other police applicants have filed papers for an urgent interdict to stop the work of the commission," commission spokeswoman Amanda Dissel said.

"In view of this application, the commission will not proceed with the public hearings."

It was due to begin its work on November 12 and continue until December 14. A full report was due on February 24, 2013.

It was headed by retired judge Catherine O'Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli.

Zille cited a breakdown of trust between Khayelitsha residents and the police as the reason for doing so.

Dissel said the commission would give notice of the date when hearings would resume. It would depend on the outcome of the litigation.

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