South Coast Police Officers Work Out Of Vehicles as Public Works Fails To Sign Building Lease

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature / DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison

SOME 20 police officers based at the Marburg SAPS Vehicle Recovery Unit and Vehicle Safeguarding Unit, on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast, have been working out of their vehicles since the beginning of June, after the province’s Public Works Department (PWD) failed to renew the lease for the premises they operate from.

The Unit, which covers the entire Umzimkhulu area, including Port Shepstone, is located in a building which has a month-to month lease. This means that each and every month, the lease must be renewed by the PWD. The previous lease lapsed on 31 May 2012 and now the KZN PWD is claiming a new lease is the responsibility of the national PWD – who have in turn passed the buck back to province. This is the fifth province to have been affected by Public Work’s failure to renew leases due to red-tape and other administrative bungling by officials.

So, when the phone rings at the Marburg Unit – no one answers because everyone is locked outside. The unit is responsible for the investigation of vehicle theft in the area and is also where vehicles are held for safeguarding. Where confiscated vehicles will now be stored is anyone’s guess. Vehicle clearance certificates are also issued from this office, which means that, right now, no one can identify a vehicle at this Unit.

This dire situation is certainly no fault of the officers working from the Marburg Unit, who are doing the best they can under difficult conditions. This morning DA Councillor, Doug Rawlins, visited the Unit. He found officers reporting for duty outside the padlocked gate. Roll call was taken and those assigned to field work went out on patrol. Administration officers are, however, forced to work out of the boots of their vehicles.

The situation at Marburg is a serious indictment against both the provincial and national Public Works departments. The failure by both departments to act has led to a compromised service to the many residents that this Unit serves. That officers of the law are expected to work under such trying circumstances is appalling – there is simply no way that they can do the job to the best of their ability.

It appears that Public Works as a whole cannot be relied on to look after or do anything – whether it is an SAPS unit office, a school, a hospital or another government building. Senior officials within the national and provincial department must excuse themselves from ANC policy workshops and fix up this mess without delay.

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