Wed, 24 Oct, 2012
Illustrating how slowly the wheels of officialdom turn, the Makana Council has given the South African Police Service the official go-ahead to start building a new R68 million police station in Extension 6 - less than two months before it's due to open for business.
Work on the police station began early last year. After several delays, it seems likely the construction company will meet its end-of-year deadline and township residents are looking forward to safer streets this festive season.
Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Sibongile Soci told Grocott's Mail it is expected that the police station will open in December. But a special council meeting on this week provided a surprise twist, with the revelation that the police had not, in fact, been granted permission to occupy and build on the land.
A report dated 10 October, presented by acting municipal manager Thembinkosi Myalato during a special council meeting on Monday, proposed that the municipality grant the South African Police Service (SAPS) permission to occupy and build on the land in Extension 6 (Erven 574 and 7461).
According to the report, a letter dated 9 January 2007 was written to Makana Municipality requesting permission to occupy and build the property. Permission was withheld on the basis of certain requirements not having been met. Myalato's report also said Council should note that although the building was already nearly finished, for procedural purposes the Department of Public Works nevertheless needed permission to occupy and build.
The report recommended that Council grants the SAPS permission to occupy and build on the land and that the Permission to Occupy and Build certificate is handed to the Department of Public Works after all the police settle all outstanding amounts.
Construction was halted at the site at the beginning of the year when it emerged that police management had failed to submit building plans and fees to the municipality. This was resolved and construction resumed in February.
The project came under the spotlight again in May, when foreman Nico Groenewald admitted that the construction company, WBHO, was using illegal water connections uncovered by municipal officials. Facilities at the station will include a community service centre, holding cells for female and male inmates, an administration block and ample parking space.
Services based there will include crime-prevention, detectives and support services. The facility will also have a victim support centre because crimes against women and children are a SAPS priority, Soci said in an emailed response.
However, despite Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's recent assertion that all police stations currently being built include gyms, there will be no dedicated fitness-training facilities at the new police station. The station management can utilise any other available space at the station premises for exercising, Soci said in an emailed response to questions from Grocott's Mail.
The new police station is expected to bring relief to township residents, who have complained of a lack of services at the Joza satellite police station. Residents have, over the years, raised their concerns about its frequently being closed and having to travel to town to access services that should be offered there. An official opening ceremony will be held on an as yet undetermined date, Soci said.