News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Western Cape police officials ordered before High Court

Khayelitsha Makhaza residents marched to the Cape High Court on Tuesday on the first day of hearings over whether or not the City of Cape Town violated residents' human rights by erecting unenclosed toilets in the area. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN

Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer has been ordered to appear before the High Court on Monday to explain why he should not be found guilty of contempt of court.

The order from Judge Nathan Erasmus follows Lamoer’s failure to appear the court on Thursday this week.

Lamoer and Harare police station commissioner Colonel Gert Nel’s were due to explain their apparent failure to investigate the reasons why the implementation of a court order compelling the City of Cape Town to enclose 55 open-air-toilets in Khayelitsha’s Makhaza informal settlement was obstructed by residents.

On Thursday, Erasmus said if he was not satisfied with Lamoer’s explanation as to why he failed to appear before the court, he will be found guilty of contempt of court, despite advocate Ranjan Jaga informing Erasmus that Lamoer was in a meeting with national police commissioner Bheki Cele in Gauteng.

Erasmus questioned whether it was more important to meet Cele or appear before court.

The showdown between the High Court and the provincial police commissioner comes in the midst of this week’s hearings over whether or not the City of Cape Town violated residents’ human rights in failing to erect top structures around 55 toilets they had installed in Makhaza.

The City installed 1 316 toilets in Makhaza and surrounding areas in 2009, claiming they had an agreement with residents that they would erect their own top structures.

All but 55 of the toilets were subsequently enclosed by residents.

The lack of top structures around the remaining toilets resulted in violent protests early last year, and the lodging of an official complaint to the Human Rights Commission by the ANC Youth League.

The HRC found the city’s actions to be unconstitutional as they violated residents’ right to dignity.

As a result the matter was brought before the High Court in September last year by three Makhaza residents, represented by Norman Arendse SC, who claimed the city was not carrying out the HRC’s instructions that the toilets should be enclosed with permanent structures.

As a result an interim order was handed down by Erasmus in November last year ordering the city to temporarily enclose the exposed toilets with corrugated iron sheeting.

However, residents protested and prevented city officials from doing so as they demanded brick and mortar structures.

In December Erasmus then ordered the police to investigate whether any party should be charged with contempt of court for preventing the carrying out of a court order.

Erasmus’s contention that the police failed to conduct any such investigation, is what has led to the subpoena of Lamoer and Nel.

On Thursday Erasmus told advocate Jaga that Lamoer was personally “ordered without delay to open an investigation” into the conduct of the community.

“It is clear either the Colonel (Nel) did not read the order or deliberately ignored the order. It is unacceptable that the courts and orders are ignored by organs of the state,” said Erasmus. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News

Tags: anc youth league, cape town, City of Cape Town, hrc, Khayelitsha, Makhaza

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