Cops work from their car boots

2012-06-29 00:00

MEMBERS of the SA Police Service vehicle recovery and safeguarding units at Marburg on the South Coast are working from their cars after being locked out of their offices by the owner of the building.

The offices, which serve the entire Umzimkhulu area, including Port Shepstone, have been under lock and key for the past month as the Public Works Department and the owner, Silver Moon Investments, haggle over the lease agreement.

According to a reliable source, who declined not to be named, the lease, which expired in December last year, should have been renewed six months earlier, in June.

However, negotiations stalled, leading Silver Moon Investments to take the drastic step of locking up the building. Now some 20 officers are working out of their cars.

Democratic Alliance councillor Doug Rawlins, who visited the unit yesterday morning, said he found the officers reporting for duty outside the padlocked gate.

“Roll call was taken and those assigned to fieldwork went out on patrol. Administration officers are, however, forced to work out of the boots of their vehicles,” he said.

Photos seen by The Witness show the premises locked and people in plain clothes, alleged to be police officers, parked outside the gate and making notes using their car bonnets as desks.

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane told The Witness yesterday that the officers had been accommodated at another police station.

“The public must go to Port Shepstone SAPS for vehicle clearances.”

The source said the building’s lease should have been renewed for five years in June, but this wasn’t done. In January a month-to-month lease was agreed.

Public Works Department officials reportedly told Silver Moon Investment representatives yesterday that the lease would be renewed in four months.

The source said Silver Moon Investments had decided to open the building daily to allow officers access to their documents so they do not obstruct justice.

The South Coast Fever reported that local residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the situation.

“All there is is a sign on the door that says the office has been closed indefinitely,” said the paper.

The Public Works Department was unable to respond to The Witness’s queries on the matter yesterday.

However, a representative, Thami Mchunu, previously told the South Coast Fever that a task team had been set up to resolve the problem which had led to the expired lease.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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