SAPS management fails to fix yet another dilapidated building

Informal settlements are growing at a rapid rate alongside NIU premises. | Renate Pieterse

Informal settlements are growing at a rapid rate alongside NIU premises. | Renate Pieterse

Published Mar 17, 2024


Another dilapidated state-owned building has come to light, after trade union Solidarity released a statement on March 15 about the shocking state of the National Intervention Unit (NIU) office in Bon Accord, Pretoria.

The NIU is an elite SAPS unit that focuses on special and high-risk police operations and assists the Special Task Force.

The building has continued to deteriorate after Solidarity first reported the issue to SAPS senior management in 2021.

Unlike the SAPS head office at Telkom Towers, which was declared unfit for human use and had to be evacuated, the NIU’s offices have continued to operate – hence the many complaints from employees.

Since it focuses on special operations, the dilapidated building is not used only for administrative purposes, but also stores firearms, ammunition and high-calibre semi-automatic firearms, as well as bulletproof vests and state-owned vehicles.

Moreover, illegal settlements have sprung up alongside the building on state-owned land, posing a threat to the security of the NIU’s assets, given that theft is common in the area.

According to Renate Pieterse, network co-ordinator for the public sector at Solidarity, SAPS senior management needs to conduct an an urgent intervention regarding and investigation into security threats to the building.

“The place is dilapidated – now even worse than when we first brought it to the attention of the SAPS top management in writing back in 2021. The NIU is an elite police unit whose highly trained members must be able to handle extremely stressful situations such as hostage dramas and kidnappings,” said Pieterse.

Pieterse emphasised the building’s decayed state, despite its key role in maintaining safety and security in the country.

“Some of the offices and living quarters look like plundered ruins. There is no supply of clean drinking water, and during our previous visit water had to be scooped out of rubbish bins using buckets. Power cables had also been stolen.

Only a third of the toilets are working, and some are clogging up due to the poor sewage system. | Renate Pieterse

“Windowpanes were shattered, doors had come off their hinges, and the bathrooms were in a shocking state,” she said.

She added that the current state of affairs was even worse.

Johan Böning, head of Solidarity’s occupational health and safety division, lamented the NIU’s decayed state and the failure of the SAPS to protect its own premises. This negatively affected its mandate to protect South African citizens.

“How can the public have confidence in the SAPS and believe they are competent to protect communities in South Africa? The state of the building also shows police management has not taken any steps to prevent the total decay of national offices, police stations and units.

“The health and safety of police employees are seriously jeopardised. Morale is being destroyed by a police management that seemingly does not care,” he added.

“The extent of the decay is absolutely shocking, as is the fact that loyal taxpayers will increasingly have to pay a high price for this apparent incompetence,” said Böning.

Solidarity’s occupational health and safety division had its work cut out for it in previous weeks dealing with complaints of decay at more police stations, even before the NIU’s deteriorating state came to public attention.