Public Protector raises hope for imminent end to the Glebelands Hostel killings
The Security Cluster also responded positively to looking into allegations of police collusion and requests that all witnesses to the killings be duly interviewed, suspects apprehended and tried in order to quell the apparent impunity. This was in response to complaints by some residents that the alleged killers were roaming the streets despite witnesses having provided the police with specific information on their identities.
Parties agreed that there was a need to accelerate efforts aimed at a reconciliation process to bring sustainable peace and healing to those affected by the violence. The process is to be led by neutral stakeholders, including faith and traditional leaders. In addition, the process is to include women residents at the hostel along similar lines to the peace building role played by the women of Rwanda.
All cases of alleged collusion and other improper conduct on the part of the police are to be investigated by the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID). The Public Protector, as the public complaints body of last resort, will assess if there is a need for an investigation as soon as a report is received from the IPID.
Regarding social conditions at the dwelling, Social Development is to move in to assist trauma victims, including a young woman whose father was gunned down near their residence at Block R of the hostel last month. The department will further arrange food parcels for the affected families. The Metro revealed that there was a long term plan for a housing development for the benefit of hostel residents.
Regarding the Kennedy Road informal settlement, the Metro undertook to dispatch engineers to attend to the complaints on the water drainage system and key structural defects discovered on some of the 700 temporary housing units that are alleged to have cost more than R30 million. The city also revealed that it had a long term plan to relocate people to proper houses. It also revealed that there was an internal investigation into the procurement process regarding the construction on the units. The Public Protector will await the outcome of this investigation before deciding whether or not to proceed with its own investigation.
The Public Protector will prepare a report on observations made by her and her Deputy during their inspection of the hostel and informal settlement and on the agreements reached during the meeting, including reports and plans to be received from the province. The office will also keep a close eye on the authorities to see to it that all the undertakings made during the meeting are duly met.
The Deputy Public Protector was assigned by the Public Protector as the Public Protector focal point to oversee the implementation of undertakings and participate in the peace and reconciliation process. The office of MEC Willies Mchunu will continue to serve as the focal point for coordination and ensuring the accountability of the organs of state involved.
"The most important things for us are for the killings to stop, the law enforcement to take place without fear or favour with every murder resolved. It is also important for peace to prevail. Warring factions also need to reconcile and those affected psychologically by the violence need to receive professional help," said the Public Protector. She also expressed gratitude to the KZN Security Cluster and eThekwini Metro for their cooperation and commitment.
A follow up meeting is planned for early 2016. The organs of state involved will submit written progress reports to the Public Protector by 22 January 2016.