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Ongoing Research at the Centre of Criminology, UCT

Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry Drug Abuse Sub-forum


Khayelitsha Commission handover ceremony
"Judge O'Regan & Adv. Pikoli (centre table) with Dan Plato & Helen Zille (left table) at the Khayelitsha Commission handover ceremony" by Discott.


The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry was launched in 2012 (and recently concluded), with the express purpose of understanding and attempting to remedy what has frequently been understood as a complete breakdown of the relationship between the community and SAPS. One of the Commission’s recommendations was the establishment of specific units - now referred to as the sub-forums - tasked with practically engaging with the pivotal challenges and concerns experienced by the community.


Headed by Major General Brand (Khayelitsha Cluster Commander), there are now a number of these sub-forums, dealing with issues ranging from transport to gangsterism and illegal drugs. These sub-forums' aims are primarily two-fold: they are tasked, firstly, with understanding and substantively engaging with their specific areas of concern, and secondly, with producing realistic strategies and interventions that can be implemented in the community.


The Drug Abuse Sub-forum, headed by Colonel Raboliba (Station Commander: Harare Police Station), has identified numerous forms of intervention, ranging from operational procedures to education drives and in both the long- and short-term. Dr Simon Howell, of the Centre of Criminology, serves as secretary of the sub-forum, which posits that the production, distribution, and use of illegal drugs is not simply a criminal problem, but one that is both driven by and contributes to a range of social concerns (including education, social development, health, community safety, policing, etc.). Indeed, policing strategies should become the last resort in ‘dealing with’ drug use, rather than as the first. 


In producing actionable interventions, the sub-forum holds that legitimacy and change are reliant on coordinated communications and activities between the community and those aiding or policing it. Based on the reciprocal exchange of information and knowledgeinterventions are premised on innovative, substantive and multidimensional responses from a collectively mobilised force providing a platform that is familiar and collegial to the community, numerous projects were undertaken, including Imbizo’s, community training workshops, and training activities for law enforcement officials themselves. As such, it is hoped that by bringing together as wide a range of the relevant factions of government, corporate and community as possible, the collection and assessment of their experiences, responses as an holistic representation of the challenges Khayelitsha faces becomes possible.


The sub-forum has utilised the opportunity to educate community members and partners about illegal substances, highlighting the various individual and social concerns associated with these challenges. It has thus become an active platform for community outreach, development and education - allowing for multidimensional responses from government departments, NGO's, community organisations, religious institutions, etc. It is recognised, in short, that a 'whole-of-society' approach is needed in order to begin to formulate effective interventions and strategies.