The police officers guarding Energy Minister David Mahlobo’s uninhabited private house are “gatvol” of the “smelly garage”, “old sofas” and dark toilet they have to use.The officers attached to the police’s protection and security services unit fear for their safety because the Nelspruit house is surrounded by a palisade fence, is not properly lit and there’s no guard house for them at the entrance.They’ve been guarding the seldom-occupied home for the past three years, since Mahlobo was appointed minister and he and his family moved to his ministerial residence in Pretoria. Two officers are stationed outside the house around the clock.However, the officers have no business providing security at ministers’ private homes, according to the police’s static protection standard operating procedures document. “We are aware that we should not be working there,” said one officer on condition of anonymity. “But now that management forces us to guard the house, they must ensure that standard procedures are met.“We’re concerned that it is the same danger they’re protecting the minister from that we’re exposed to. It’s dark in that yard and we use a side lamp to write in an OB [occurrence book].”Without the light of a cellphone, he said, the toilet is so dark they can’t use it.“The toilet cannot be cleaned because it’s dark. Everybody who passes the house sees us. We sit in a garage. It’s smelly and has old sofas,” he said.The Ministerial Handbook makes reference to security only at private residences “occupied on a regular basis”. According to the police’s own procedures document, static protection members are responsible only for the protection of VIPs at Parliament, provincial legislatures, ministerial estates or residences and offices, and premiers’ and presidential residences and offices.Mahlobo moved out when he became state security minister in 2014.Protection and security services acting divisional commissioner Major General Othlia Moutlane instructed the provincial unit to stop guarding the house, but that instruction was ignored.In a letter dated December 8, Moutlane wrote to Mpumalanga protection and security services head Brigadier Mkhize and ordered the withdrawal of the static protection officers.“The pending withdrawal was also communicated to the minister’s office … visible patrols by your office must, however, continue on a daily basis after your withdrawal,” Moutlane wrote.Mkhize was asked to confirm in writing that the officers had been withdrawn. But they are still there and the officers say complaints to their managers have fallen on deaf ears.“When we approach management and ask why are we there in the first place, they just say it’s a favour to the minister. When he was state security minister they said that we must be there because he’s close to the president. There was no threat assessment as far as we know and this is abuse of state resources,” said one source. Mahlobo told City Press he had not yet received a report on the matter.“They have not spoken to me yet. I don’t know much, I’m just a client,” he said, adding that senior national and provincial police management “know my security situation”.National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said that for security reasons, he could not disclose the security of VIPs. The officers had internal channels they could use to address their concerns, he said.It is unclear if Mahlobo’s security threat remains from his days as head of Mpumalanga’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs department. At the time, he was nicknamed “super HOD” because he had bodyguards and was driven around in a blue-light vehicle like a member of Cabinet. It was alleged his life was in danger because he was investigating corruption in the department.