ATC210225: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Hearing of the Kat-Kop Petition Held on 14 October 2020, as adopted on 24 February 2021
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS AND EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE HEARING OF THE KAT-KOP PETITION HELD ON 14 OCTOBER 2020, AS ADOPTED ON 24 FEBRUARY 2021
The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee), having considered the Kat-Kop Petition, referred to the Committee by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 06 May 2020, for its consideration and resolution, reports as follows:
The petitioner, Mrs Z Makalima submitted a petition on behalf of the community of Kat-Kop village, in the Elundini Local Municipality, Eastern Cape Province. In her submissions, the petitioner alleges the following:
- For a number of years to date, the community of Kat-Kop had experienced a high increase in property theft and violent crimes;
- Property crimes are a common occurrence in the area. These include, stock theft, residential and business burglaries,
- Criminals/syndicates are sexually assaulting women and children in certain cases end up murdering them, and
- Alleges that the police are enabling criminals to commit crime rather than protecting the community.
Mrs Makalima, further submitting that they have been raising these concerns for a while but without any progress from the relevant authorities. In her case, she has never had any formal feedback from the police officers since opening a case on 31 August 2018.
On 14 October 2020, the Committee held a hearing on the petition via virtual platform where the petitioner and relevant stakeholders were invited. The purpose was to afford the petitioner and relevant stakeholders with an opportunity to make first-hand oral submissions in relation to the subject matter of the petition.
The following Committee Members were in attendance:
2.1 Hon Z V Ncitha, ANC, Eastern Cape (Chairperson);
2.2 Hon S Shaikh, ANC, Limpopo;
2.3 Hon T S C Dodovu, ANC, North-West;
2.4 Hon E M Mthethwa, ANC, KwaZulu-Natal;
2.5 Hon B M Bartlett, ANC, Northern Cape;
2.6 Hon G Michalakis, DA, Free State;
2.7 Hon I M Sileku, DA, Western Cape;
2.8 Hon K Motsamai, EFF, Gauteng;
2.9 Hon Zandamela, EFF; Mpumalanga, and
2.10 Hon S E Mfayela, IFP, KwaZulu-Natal
The following Committee officials were in attendance:
2.11 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;
2.12 Adv. T Sterris-Jaffer; Committee Researcher; and
2.13 Mrs N Fakier; Executive Secretary;
The following stakeholders appeared before the Committee:
2.14 Petitioner: Mrs Z Makalima
2.15 Representatives of Elundini Local Municipality: Cllr NR Lengs -Executive Mayor- and Mr K Gashi -Municipal Manager
2.16 Representatives of the South African Police Services: Lt Gen LE Ntshinga- Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner
- SUBMISSIONS BY THE PETITIONER
In her opening remarks, Mrs Makalima gave a brief background of herself, noting that she had lived in Elundini but due to her house being one of the homes that was attacked multiple time, she took the decision to live in Johannesburg by herself, with four children, and leaving her husband behind in Kat-Kop, as he would rather bear the brunt of these acts of violence by himself.
Mrs Makalima then submitted that it is not the first petition to come out of Kat-Kop, the petition was submitted on line using the platform Change.org resulting in the petition receiving a substantial amount of support from not only the residents of Kat-Kop but also some of the people who have relocated due to traumatic events taking place in the area every day. Indicating that law enforcement needed to become involved to end the pillaging taking place every day.
Their aim in releasing the petition was to get the attention of law makers, special units and parties who can bring about actual change to the lives of Kat-Kop residents.
Reporting that there has been an increase in stock theft for the past three years. The syndicate involved broke into people’s homes, terrorised people, stole, and in some instances they had raped and killed people during the attacks. There were some people and parts of the community that felt the police were not doing enough, that the police did not have enough capacity, or that the policy was part of the problem.
Submitting that Kat-Kop is a village mainly dominated by women and children and due to safety concerns a number of people have been leaving the village to seek greener pastures in other cities. The young men still found in Kat-Kop felt that they did not have power to end the household ravages. Some of the young men are involved in one way or another.
Some people in Kat-Kop were not able to make an honest living. If one started a small business, the syndicate would come for their stock, in some instance there has been killing of owners of small businesses in the process. Many of the people in Kat-Kop had been raised on small-scale subsistence farming and there has been a grab of small businesses needed in the area. These people are scared to continue, as anyone who wanted to start a business knew other people were just waiting to take it over illegally.
The petitioner further submitted that she would have loved to go home but she had been told by her family that the status quo has not changed. However, informing that the community had started different patrolling teams in different cycles however, people were becoming weary and afraid of doing this by themselves since they were patrolling unarmed. The patrols consist of young men who want to protect their families and went out in the middle of the night to walk the area, trying to raise some kind of alarm if they saw any activity.
Residents of Kat-Kop requested help into bringing together organisations or organisations that already existed within legal and government structures, to help the people of Kat-Kop.
Mrs Makalima then shared some the horrific stories, without giving names. Submitting that there were situations where the syndicates were going to society meetings and killed people or were sent into an area to instil fear in people. People’s kraal’s were empty. She mentioned that it was not just a random group of people but the same people over and over again. Noting that the saddest thing was that they were infiltrating schools using little gangs and recruiting young boys to join these gangs. Alleging that these gangs are run by old men who ran businesses. These boys within Kat-Kop were continuously being pulled out of the gangs, taken to the police station, and three days later they would be back in the gang. A request has been made to stop releasing people back into the community.
Mrs Makalima pleaded that the police needed to be allocated more resources. One of the biggest complaints was that the police station was full during the day. She understood that administratively a lot went on during the day but there were four police officials and one police vehicle patrolling the areas. The area that Kat-Kop police station had to cover was huge, making it difficult for these police officers to follow up on reporting.
Concluding, that the community had been begging for this for a while. In 2018, there was a police imbizo where the community was engaged to find out what their needs were. At this Imbizo concerns were raised about the role of the station commander. Kat-Kop was thus requesting an increase in the resource allocation with a view to change the manner in which operations are currently enforced.
4. SUBMISSIONS BY ELUNDINI LOCAL MUNICIPALITY
Submissions by the Elundini Local Municipality (the Municipality) were led by Cllr NR Lengs, the Executive Mayor (the Mayor). The Mayor commenced her submissions by first acknowledging that the issues raised in the petition are events that are taking place. She further concurred that an increase in the crime rate has caused frustration for both the Municipality and community of Ward 7 in Kat-Kop village.
In the course of her submission, the Mayor briefly highlighted the following challenges and interventions to the Committee:
- Roads: It was noted that there are challenges of access to proper roads, indicating that the area is vast with limited resources. The government grant that the Municipality is receiving, does not allow the Municipality to adequately construct roads that meet the expectations of the community. However, the Mayor assured that they are trying within the existing budgetary constraints and reported that in the 2020/21 financial year they have prioritised building two bridges.
- Streetlights: It was also submitted that almost in all the areas in the Kat-Kop villages there are no street lights, indicating street lights are mainly found in the urban areas. However, it was assured that the matter will be receiving some attention to ease the operations of the South African Police Services (SAPS).
- Community meetings: Furthermore, it was submitted that the Municipality has quarterly meetings with community members and these meeting allow the Municipality to engage and find a way forward with some of the issues raised in the petition.
The Mayor concluded, by suggesting that there is a need for mobile police stations to cater for the vast area of the Kat-Kop community and further suggested that community members should be trained on the whistle-blowing policy. The Mayor assured that there have been community meetings, this included quarterly meetings, ward committee meetings, and had been extended to community meetings. Some of the issues in the petition have been discussed in those meetings. Further stressing that the issue of budget constraints affected the Municipality in a negative manner. .
- SUBMISSIONS BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICES (SAPS)
Lt Gen LE Ntshinga, Provincial Commissioner in the Eastern Cape (the Commissioner) made submissions, on behalf of SAPS. In her extensive submissions, the Commissioner took the Committee through a presentation on the progress made by SAPS regarding some of the issues raised in the petition.
The Commissioner firstly submitted that the Kat-Kop police station is a small police station as previously there was no police station. The SAPS National Department was engaged stating that the area of Tsitsana was too far from Kat-Kop and should have its own small police station. This was specifically in relation to Human Resources, Vehicle Resources, SAPS Intervention, Recoveries 2018+, Challenges, and Images of Successful Interventions.
The following breakdown was provided:
- Visible Policing
- Fixed Establishment = 30
- Active = 22
- GAP = 8
- Fixed Establishment = 04
- Active = 05
- GAP = +3
- Fixed Establishment = 10
- Active = 07
- GAP = 03
- Fixed Establishment = 44
- Active = 34
- GAP = 10
The vehicle resources in the area were made up of Toyota Land cruisers, Ford Rangers, Nissan Trucks, Toyota Hiluxes, and Nissan NP300s. These vehicles were suitable for Kat-Kop’s terrain but, due to bad roads, were always requiring maintenance. . SAPS was trying their best to ensure there were vehicles on the road at night.
In terms of SAPS’ interventions, four additional members from Mbizeni forces were deployed to the Kat-kop area. Additional forces were also beefed up with three more members from the support personnel. Village Committees have been established, forming part of the Community Police Forums (CPF) and working closely with the Vispol and Station Commander. Traditional Policing was introduced to complement the Rural Safety Strategy where police stations were too far from communities. The recruitment of reservists from the area is continuing, applicants were being processed, screened and trained. All licensed liquor outlets are being visited for compliance every week.
The Commissioner further submitting that since the 2018 intervention, the successes in relation to stock theft in Kat-Kop amounted to 771 sheep, 215 goats; 118 cattle, and 8 horses. In terms of the impact of interventions by SAPS in Kat-Kop for the 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 period, there was a general decrease in contact crime. However, there was an increase in the crimes of murder and common assault. In relation to property crimes, there was a general increase. This showed that the interventions were generally yielding results as there was a drastic decrease in crime. For the 2018/2019 to 2019/2020 period, there was a general decrease in contact crimes, excluding sexual assault which increased. However, property crimes increased in relation to arson.
In terms of the challenges faced, despite the additional human resources deployed to the area there is still a general lack of adequate human resources. The station would be upgraded to a Lieutenant Colonel station so that it could match the vast area, as well as include the reservists. The landscape of the area is not favouring police patrols as it is mountainous with no roads and more forested areas. The area is very dark at night as there is no street lighting or Apollo lights. Criminals were able to see police vans coming from far away, which is why there was an introduction of undercover police. The policing area is very vast and consists of more than 70 localities to be covered by the small station. Stolen stock was recovered but no arrests are made.
Community cooperation was very important as the community knew who the criminals were but did not want to whistle-blow or provide information. Even where people were arrested, no one wanted to come forward to give a statement to strengthen the investigation. If cases were not strong enough, the criminals would go back into the communities even where bail is opposed. There were joint district operations in both the day and night. Stock theft recoveries, arrests, and confiscation of firearms were successful in working together with the community. Junior police officers were sent door-to-door to talk to the people of Kat-Kop on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and stock theft, so that information could be obtained and cooperation with the community strengthened.
In conclusion, although huge decreases were achieved in most of the crime categories in the Kat-Kop area, stock theft remains a concern. Interventions will be intensified. More emphasis will be placed on the community in blue concept and the recruitment of reservists. The GBV and Femicide action plan would be rolled out in the area. Most of the people in the area were victimised or knew of people being victimised but did not report the crimes, leading to issues of non-reporting.
In concluding, the Commissioner further submitted that SAPS is now applying the non-conventional approach to apprehend the suspected culprit, as in this case, visible policing does not work as a result of some of the issues relating to service delivery (lack of proper roads and no streetlights). SAPS is also trying to recruit young men to be part of the Community Policing Forum (CPF), assuring they can play a crucial part in mitigating criminal activities.
Lastly, it was submitted that with regard to mobile police station, consent will be needed to be obtained from the Traditional Council to enable them to extend some of their services in far reaching areas.
6. OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS
The Committee made the following observations and key findings in relation to the various submissions made on the subject matter of the petition:
6.1 According to the petitioner, she did not exhaust all the avenues before petitioning Parliament, stating that “in some ways residents had been trying to go through the correct chains but she did not know what those correct chains were”.
6.2 The petitioner further submitted, that they have been raising these concerns for a while but without any progress from the relevant authorities. In her case, she has never had any formal feedback from the police officers since opening a case on 31 August 2018.
6.3 The Municipality was servicing 17 wards with limited resources. The government grant that the Municipality is receiving, does not allow the Municipality to adequately construct roads that meet the expectations of the community. And there were no streetlights in almost all of the rural areas.
6.4 The Commissioner emphasised Community cooperation to strengthen the investigation, the court would never be able to make an informed decision – they would just say that there was not enough evidence and that the case was withdrawn due to the fact that people did not want to come forward
6.5 On the issue of a mobile police stations, space approval was needed from the Traditional Council.
6.6 The Commissioner assured that the Kat-Kop station would be upgraded to a Lieutenant Colonel station so that it could match the vast area, as well as include the reservists.
Following extensive deliberations on the submissions made during the hearing on the petition, the Committee recommends as follows:
7.1 The Provincial Commissioner follow up on the case reported by the petitioner on 31 August 2018. In this regard, submit a detailed progress report to the petitioner and submit same to the House within six months of tabling this report.
7.2 The Provincial Commissioner provide a detailed progress report to the House within six months of tabling this report on the progress made in setting up mobile police stations within the Kat-Kop area as well as upgrading the Kat-Kop police station into a Lieutenant Colonel Station.
7.3 The Provincial Commissioner provide a detailed plan to the House within six months of tabling this report to deal with fleet management and maintenance in the Kat-Kop area.
7.4 The Mayor provide a progress report to the House within six months of tabling this report in the following areas:
7.4.1 Maintenance/construction of road infrastructure.
7.4.2 Maintenance/construction/erection of street lights in Ward 17 of Kat-Kop Village.
Report to be tabled for consideration.
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