Saps officers face eviction from official housing and safehouses
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CAPE TOWN - The families of several police officers facing the threat of eviction from SAPS official housing and safehouses picketed outside the provincial police offices in Green Point on Thursday voicing their concerns that they were not expendable and their safety should be prioritised.
The families say they are facing the threat of eviction as the SAPS and the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, that own the housing, have imposed excessive rent increases on SAPS members living in these well-located areas.
Social Justice organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, joining the families in support on Thursday, said as everyone will be ushering in the new year, these police officers have been requested to vacate official housing provided by SAPS by December 31 or be subjected to an exorbitant rental increase of 1 177%.
Those who aren’t able to pay these “inflated” rental amounts must urgently find alternative housing or face homelessness.
The affected SAPS members were moved to SAPS official housing and safehouses as a result of attacks on or threats to their lives experienced in the performance of their duties fighting crime, and serving and protecting their communities.
Some of the members have survived assassination attempts, while others have lost family members in coordinated attacks on their families.
Luyanda Mtamzeli, a community organiser at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said: “It is disappointing that the Minister of Public Work and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille has continuously claimed to advocate against spatial planning injustice and unlawful eviction but in contradiction to that claim, her department and the SAPS are imposing astronomical rentals on SAPS members.
“We call on the minister to practise what she preaches and intervene in this matter.”
Uyanda Maqwazina said she has been living in a safehouse with her police officer husband and their family for three years and was now worried about their safety.
“There are people who have stayed there for more than 20 years and they are not evicted.
“Our kids are going to go back to the township and that means they will have to change schools. We have not applied at the township schools.
“My husband will have to go back to the township and face the same criminals he was taken away from.
How is he going to survive when they take him back?” Maqwazina said.
Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the police officials were informed that their contracts would not be renewed.
“We negotiated last year for them to have an extension for a year for them to seek alternative accommodation.
“They were given a grace period until December 31,” said Mamabolo.
South African Police and Allied Workers Union (Sapawu) acting general secretary Mphangeli Jingqi said about 50 members were facing eviction.
“We feel that the eviction is unfair because some members were issued with eviction notices while some were not, but looking at the time frame, those who are not evicted were there at the same time as those who have been issued an eviction. The SAPS is not doing a threat analysis to check if the threat is not there before they evict them,” said Jingqi.
Police spokesperson Andre Traut said their grievances will only be facilitated if the correct channels are followed.
“Our Housing Policy is a transparent and fair process where tenants of police accommodation are rotated on a three-year basis. This is, however, an internal affair and is treated as such,” said Traut.
The Public Works Department did not respond to questions by deadline.