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The Department of Public Service and Administration has dismissed claims that minister Lindiwe Sisulu has refused to move into the department’s headquarters while complaining that they are in the derelict part of town and unsafe.
According to her spokesman, Public Works is planning to move the department out of the building, Batho Pele House in the inner city, as it is not big enough to accommodate all its staff.
Public Works, which is responsible for finding accommodation for government departments and agencies, has yet to respond to questions about the status of arrangements for Sisulu’s department and officials in her office.
The Tshwane Metro Police were not inundated with reports of crime in the area in which the building was located, spokesman Console Tleane said.
However, he said the metro police had embarked on a comprehensive inner city regeneration programme and it was yielding results.
“Part of this programme includes the clearing of the streets of illegal taxi ranks,” Tleane said.
“This has been done successfully at the corner of Madiba and Lilian Ngoyi streets.
“We have also ring-fenced the Reserve Bank on the corner of Sisulu and Helen Joseph streets. Other (measures) will be rolled out as the programme unfolds.”
Tleane said the city had embarked on a joint programme with the government to ensure that all national departments remained in the inner city and developed their buildings.
Among the departments that occupy recently built or refurbished buildings are basic education, health and public works.
The programme is called Rekgabisa Tshwane, and safety and security are one of its cornerstones.
“The city’s contribution in this regard is to ensure that the inner city is regenerated through eradicating crime and grime, among other interventions.”
Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said the only objection the department had to the building was that there was not enough space to accommodate the minister and her officials.
Mabaya said even the deputy minister had been working in a different building since 2009 because there was no space for her at Batho Pele House.
“After the minister’s appointment, we went to Batho Pele House to make arrangements to move her to the new office together with all the officials transferred with her,” he said.
“When we got there we found that there was absolutely no space for us.
“That building is supposed to accommodate 300 people, but is (occupied by) 600 members of staff.”
“We never complained about the safety of the area where the building is located. We (just) did not have space to accommodate the minister and her staff. Anything more than that is just lies.”
According to Mabaya, Sisulu was working from her office in Cape Town when the decision was made to accommodate her at the offices of one of the department’s agencies.
He said other members of the department’s staff might have raised the issue of safety in the area, but this had not come from the minister’s office.
“We never said there were people who pickpocket on the streets on anything like that. Our only issue was that there wasn’t sufficient space,” said Mabaya.
Sisulu became minister of public service and administrationin President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet shuffle in June. She replaced Roy Padayachie, who had died the month before.
The Department of Public Works could not respond in time for publication to questions about accommodation for Sisulu and her staff. - Pretoria News