Police in the dark on HQ case

2012-02-14 16:25

Cape Town - The police told MPs on Tuesday that they have been excluded from legal action to end the controversial Pretoria headquarters lease deal, even though they will have to pay R600m in rent if the case fails.

"The department of public works took a decision to go to court to nullify the lease. We were not consulted as an interested party," Lieutenant General Lea Moffome told Parliament's portfolio committee on police.

Moffome, who is the deputy national commissioner for physical resources, said senior police officials went to one meeting on the matter only to be told they had been mistakenly invited.

The committee was baffled by the lack of interaction between the two departments.

Public works had procured more than 1 300 properties for the police, which admitted paying inflated prices in many cases.

Chairperson Sindi Chikunga asked how it was possible that the legal department of the police had failed to implicate itself in the Pretoria lease case against empowerment property mogul Roux Shabangu.

"What is your legal committee there for if you cannot intervene? Are you not worried about the R600m you are liable to pay?"

Moffome told MPs that the police department was still in need of a new headquarters in Durban after a contract to rent the Transnet building in the port city was cancelled.

"In KwaZulu-Natal, the process was also stalled and the police remain in that need. They need offices."

Both that office block and the Middestad building in Pretoria were to be leased from Shabangu, but the deals - worth a total of R1.6n - were declared unlawful by the public protector because proper tender procedures had not been followed.

The findings led to the sacking of former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu--Nkabinde in October last year and the suspension of national police commissioner Bheki Cele not long after.

A few months before she was fired, Mahlangu-Nkabinde announced that she would ask the courts to rule on the validity of the lease for the Middestad building.

Moffome said the police rented 1 365 properties through public works and had undertaken a verification process of all these contracts.

It found there were four contracts for which public works had invoiced them where they did not occupy the property in question.

She complained that the police were at the mercy of public works to procure buildings and had, in a number of cases, been evicted from police stations because of disputes between that department and the owners.

At the Erasmia police station, officers turned the public away last year because they had been given notice to evacuate the premises.

Chikunga said the briefing made it clear that despite assurances from the police that they were trying to build new stations and living quarters to lower costs and acquire assets, it seemed as if they were renting even more buildings than before.

In addition, it was obvious that the police were often not paying market-related prices and did not have copies of the leases, but were simply paying invoices made out by public works.

"Reductions are not happening. You are paying these exorbitant rates every day."

  • Francois - 2012-02-14 16:45

    Cannot imagine how Lieutenant General Lea Moffome got the job except for political cadre employment. General, the department of public works rent buildings or acquire them for the various state departments. Let us not assume that Cele is guilty until proven so, but it appears as if he has signed the authorisation for leasing buildings at inflated prices that is going to enrich certain individuals and is going to empoverish the taxpayer. Can you imagine how many houses could have been built with that money? There is also a legal principle that says that if you buy stolen goods, the goods are not yours, disregarding the fact that you paid for it. The same applies to illegal rental agreements. I think you did you assessment wrong. Policemen or women needs to be out there where the crime happens (in the SAPS it may be the reason for the big offices, because you most probably need to watch the thieves and rapists in the office). Go do your work in getting the resources ready to fight crime and don't waste your time sitting in court for a case that has nothing to do with you except the number of offices you wanted. If the deal is illegal, it is to be cancelled: Why have you never stated this in any previous rant to the media? Protecting Cele?

  • Larry - 2012-02-14 16:59

    Its not the only thing that the Police are in the Dark about. With a bunch of thieving clowns at the helm, its surprising that they know what day it is.

      braamc - 2012-02-14 17:17

      Is very dark over there

  • AyGeewils - 2012-02-14 18:24

    State of affairs in this Land ... won't take much to ferment civil conflict - people on the ground are not that dim and getting gatvol.

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