The commission headed by retired judge Kate O’Regan and lawyer Vusi Pikoli is probing allegations of police inefficiency in the Cape Town township
Makaza resident Vuyiswa Mpekweni described her frustrations about being denied justice after her niece and three children, aged between nine and 17, were burnt to death.
A man known to the police had apparently locked her four relatives in their shack and set the structure alight in 2007.
He was identified and arrested, but was later released when the case docket disappeared. When the docket was subsequently found, the suspect had fled to Johannesburg.
Mpekweni said she had obtained a photograph of the man and asked a police officer to help her circulate it in the Johannesburg area.
“My heart was broken because he [officer] was making me do the work of the police,” Mpekweni said.
She had yet to hear from the police on whether they had made any headway in apprehending the killer.
“I will never forget because I feel the pain and remember those that were killed,” a sobbing Mpekweni said.
She was hoping the “truth commission”, as she described the Khayelitsha inquiry, would help her get answers.
“I’m hoping I can get some help when it comes to the police who did not care.”
O’Regan assured Mpekweni the commission would help where possible. She cautiously added that she could not promise justice for the family.
Another woman, Beauty Thosholo, testified about her son’s murder in 2010. The boy was dragged from his mother’s house by a group of gun wielding men.
“He was screaming mummy, mummy,” Thosholo testified.
He was later found dead in dunes near Monwabisi beach, not far from her home. He had been shot five times. Police had arrived quickly and arrested several people after linking the murder to an argument between Thosholo’s son and another man over a girl.
Following the murder, the court case dragged on with several postponements. The suspects were later released.
Thosholo has yet to hear from police on the progress of the case. The frustrations had left her family very angry. She was now putting her hope on the commission.
Again, O’Regan said the commissioners felt for the family and would make inquiries, but could not promise Thosholo justice would be served.
Thursday was day six of the commission’s oral hearings, which would continue for the next few weeks.
Western Cape premier Helen Zille set up the commission after complaints by NGOs that the increase in mob justice killing in Khayelitsha was as a result of police inefficiency, and a failing justice system.
The commission was initially delayed after objections by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. In October last year Mthethwa lost his Constitutional Court bid to have the commission scrapped.