The Department of Public Works has left police barracks in the Durban area literally to rot. It appears the Department is more concerned with spending hundreds of millions of rands on ministerial mansions than looking after buildings that house South African police officers.
According to a reply to a parliamentary question received last year, Natalia Court Barracks was to undergo maintenance, but this has yet to happen as there are insufficient funds. Instead, police officers must live with raw sewage seeping through rusted and broken down pipes.
“On Friday, I visited three police barracks across Durban – Natalia Court Barracks, Excelsior Court Barracks and Berea CID. Excelsior and Natalia are supposed to house policemen and women, while the Berea CID houses the detective branch” said Anchen Dreyer, the DA Shadow Minister of Public Works.
“Excelsior Court no longer houses SAPS members and is now illegally occupied by drug dealers and prostitutes. This building was declared a health and safety hazard last year. It could easily house at least 100 families but is now empty of SAPS members because of the Public Works Department’s inability to fulfil its mandate”.
The Berea CID, which houses the detective branch, has a leaking roof and rotting carpets as a result of damp. The building is also infested with bird lice from the pigeons that nest in the roof.
These barracks are not the only public buildings in the country in such a shocking condition. Other police stations, like the one in Carletonville, the old Marshall Street barracks in Johannesburg and the old Home Affairs building in Randfontein, have been largely demolished by vandals and are now completely uninhabitable.
“The core mandate of the Department of Public Works is the proper management, maintenance and restoration of the thousands of state properties in its care. Buildings like the ones I visited confirm that the Department is failing to deliver on this mandate” added Dreyer.
Creating better living conditions for our policemen and women is essential to improving the morale of our police service. They should be treated with dignity, not left to live in squalor.