New police station rental headache

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Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi

Nelspruit - A few months ago the 200-strong SAPS in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, was temporarily locked out of its offices because Public Works had failed to pay the rent on the leased space.

Now, across the country, in Mpumalanga, the boot is on the other foot.

Public Works said it was “surprised” to hear the provincial SAPS head office staff in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, were still not occupying all the office space rented for them more than three years ago.

In his parliamentary reply, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the lease for the provincial SAPS head office was signed in March 2010 and in March 2011 additional square meterage was secured and keys were handed over.

However, 402m2 were never occupied by the SAPS, despite them having requested the space and having gone through two procurement processes.

“The Department of Public Works only became aware in October 2013 that SAPS was not utilising part of the building. The meeting to clarify the state of affairs was held on November 6, 2013… and SAPS stated in that meeting that they still required the additional space. It was also confirmed that the keys are still with SAPS,” the minster said.

“The department will not cease to rent the building in the short and medium term because SAPS has indicated that they still require the additional space.”

So until told otherwise, Public Works will pay rent of R88 502 a month, as has been paid since March 2011, amounting to about R2.65 million.

 While renting office space for the police appears to be a headache, handing over new stations seems easier – though not without hiccups: according to media reports two months ago squatters remained in residence at the Saulsville police station, which was completed in 2005, in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.

However, new police stations were successfully handed over to the SAPS in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, in May, and in July the Limpopo SAPS moved into new offices at Mankweng, near Polokwane.

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