Several families of police members that are serving in Cape Town and living at safehouses, owned by the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), picketed in front of the SAPS Provincial Office on Thursday, December 9 regarding excessive rent increases of 1,177%.
The families are currently sheltered under SAPS’ safehouses due to threats posed to them and their families as a result of the dangerous nature of the work of combating crime and protecting their communities. However, the families have now been requested to vacate before December 31, or be subject to the new “market-related” rents.
Those who gathered demanded that the Provincial office meaningfully engage the families, reconsider the failure to allocate official housing to deserving members and refrain from unilaterally deducting the massive 1,177% rent increase from their basic public servant salaries. They further demanded that their appeal be reconsidered, this time taking into account their threat-risk assessments.
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According to a statement issued by Ndifuna Ukwazi and the South African Police and Allied Workers Union (SAPAWU), Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, the National Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khehla Sithole, and Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille all need to account to the families as their decisions have real-life implications.
“The festive season sees an uptick in crime, making this the busiest and most demanding period for SAPS members. It is also a time when the service provided by these members is almost indispensable. It cannot be expected that these members risk their lives in service of the people of Cape Town whilst having nowhere to call home.
“Should these members refuse to vacate, SAPS will deduct the rent amounts from their salaries – which would leave the families with little to no money. And where their salaries are insufficient to recover the new market-related rent, SAPS will deduct these amounts from the members’ pension funds,” the statement read.
Regarding the SAPS Eviction Picket this morning, DA shadow Minister for Public Works and Infrastructure Samantha Graham-Mare made an appearance and gave comment: vid by @Zach_Mashele //@Our_DA @PatriciaDeLille// #LandForPeopleNotProfit pic.twitter.com/XpAD2BIVms
— Ndifuna Ukwazi (@NdifunaUkwazi) December 9, 2021
Meanwhile, in response to the families’ concerns over the threat of eviction, Cluster Commander, Brigadier Du Toit said: “In terms of housing, with the three-year allocation of housing and the administration of housing, we are following that internal policy that is prescribed not only for the Western Cape but for the whole police service.”
However, a spouse of SAPS member Yolisa Njangase dismissed Du Toit’s assertion that SAPS was “following internal policy”, indicating that the policy is implemented and enforced unfairly. According to Yolisa, a Brigadier has been residing in a safe house for more than 20 years while paying minimal rental.
Major General Jojo of the SAPS Western Cape Provincial Office further mentioned that SAPS would consult the National Office and provide a response by December 15 2021.
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Picture: Ndifuna Ukwazi