SOLD: One police station

2018-07-05 16:41
The RE/MAX properties ‘SOLD’ sign outside the Town Hill police station. No one seems to know if the police station is going to be closed down.

The RE/MAX properties ‘SOLD’ sign outside the Town Hill police station. No one seems to know if the police station is going to be closed down. (Nokuthula Ntuli )

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The “SOLD” sign is up, but no one seems to know if the Town Hill police station will be closed down or rebuilt.

Community members and police officers say they have been receiving conflicting stories about the future of the station, which also has a detective unit.

The confusion is fuelled by two contradictory estate agent signs, one which says the property is for sale while the other says the property has been sold.

One police officer said: “We don’t know what to believe anymore because there are rumours that we are going to be relocated and then you see the sign saying the property has been sold but the municipality is denying it.”

RE/MAX’s Johann de Wit denied knowledge of the “sold” sign, saying he is the victim of a prank.

The property is owned by Msunduzi Municipality and the national Department of Public Works (DPW) rents it on behalf of the SAPS for approximately R30 000 a month. However, the multi-year lease apparently expired in June and is now on a month-to-month basis until the parties agree on the future of the police station.

The developers of the neighbouring R250 million Athlone Centre, Willmeg Investments, have confirmed making an offer to the City to buy the property with the intention of demolishing the existing building to expand the shopping complex and build a new police station.

Willmeg is the property development subsidiary of Mattland Holdings, which is based in Howick.

“There are stories that we are going to kick the police out but we can’t do that because the property belongs to the municipality. And even when we buy the property we have no intention of kicking anyone out,” said Mattland MD Paul McCabe.

He said when they approached Msunduzi they were told that they needed to get comment from DPW. DPW has apparently expressed excitement over the prospect of a new police station as the current one is in need of extensive renovations, including a new roof.

“SAPS holds all the power at the moment but they said we will only get a response at the end of July.

“They can decide whether they want to stay on the property and if they do we will build a new police station for them. If they want to leave we will still buy the property from the municipality,” said McCabe.

He said Mattland has no plans to replace Msunduzi as the new landlord so they will build the police station then sign a long-term lease of about 50 years or more with DPW at a cost of R1 “in order to make it legit”.

“We only have one objective and that is to make sure that the community we are part of gets the best and that is what we are doing with the centre and the police station,” he said.

McCabe said they will only know the cost of this “additional” development once the City has conducted the valuation.

DA councillor Bill Lambert, who has lived in the area for 52 years, said he is excited about the new police station because there were concerns about the possibility of the police station closing down.

“We can all see that the police station is falling apart so there should be no reasons to block the developers from building a new one,” he said.

Chairperson of the Town Hill CPF, Megan Nicol, said their pressing concern is temporary accommodation for the police station, which is yet to be confirmed. “The CPF’s main objective is to ensure easy access and continuity of services to the community.

“We will endeavour to ensure as little disruption to the public, through this process, as possible,” she said.

Msunduzi moratorium 

Msunduzi currently has a moratorium on the disposal of all its land. This could soon change, however.

The moratorium emanates from a resolution taken by the executive committee (Exco) in October last year.

However, there is a report that came before the sustainable development and enterprises portfolio committee in May with a request to rescind and amend the moratorium. “The challenge that the municipality stands to lose development/investment in the city has been realised,” reads the report.

The request is yet to come before Exco and full council

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg
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