Cop out: Zero accountability for police station being without power for more than 8 months

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The Ga-Rankuwa police station in Tshwane has been without electricity for more than eight months.
The Ga-Rankuwa police station in Tshwane has been without electricity for more than eight months.
File, Daily Sun
  • The Ga-Rankuwa police station in Tshwane has been without electricity for more than eight months. 
  • It appears that its power was cut after the police station devolved, meaning it was no longer the responsibility of Public Works. 
  • During a visit to the police station on Thursday by Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety, no one would take accountability for the issue.

Who is going to take accountability for allowing the Ga-Rankuwa police station in Tshwane to be plunged into darkness for more than eight months? It appears that no one will. 

The Gauteng provincial legislature's portfolio committee on community safety conducted an oversight visit of the police station on Thursday, following reports that it had effectively been without electricity for several months. 

Because of the near constant power outage, the police station had been unable to render services effectively. 

The committee heard that because the power station often did not have electricity, cases had to be registered at other police stations. 

Community members looking to call the police station for help, or to report a crime could not do so either because of the power outage. 

News24 also heard that the police station had closed at night with the police station's gate shut, blocking people from coming to the police station in the evenings. 

READ | Shadow police: Ga-Rankuwa SAPS boss explains difficulties of not having electricity for past 8 months

Meanwhile, one of the committee members said that the police station's holding cells could not be used because of the power outage.

Arrested suspects had to be transported to neighbouring police stations to be held in custody. 

At one point, a generator was acquired, but had broken down as it was running 24 hours a day.

Later, a second generator was also secured at the police station. 

Despite these interventions, the police station still found itself without power.  

What caused the outage

The reason for the outage at the Ga-Rankuwa police station is bizarre at best. 

According to police management who gave feedback to the committee, the police station and the neighbouring forensic pathology laboratory were powered by the same mini sub-station. 

However, the power supply to the police station was cut and circuit breakers were also removed.

It is alleged that because of a removal of the circuit breakers, a cable fault also occurred between the mini substation within the police station. 

This allegedly happened because the police station had been devolved, meaning that the building and maintenance was no longer the responsibility of the national Department of Public Works. 

A report stated:

It was further noted, that the two facilities were built as one precinct (SAPS) under the custody of NDPWI before the functions were designated to different departments and the subsequent devolution of the Ga-Rankuwa police station to SAPS.

The committee was told the power supply was cut without informing the SAPS or the affected police station. 

With the police station devolved, SAPS would have to take responsibility and ensure that electricity is provided. 

The committee further heard that SAPS had been told by Eskom to get a private supplier to solve the outage issue.

A service provider was obtained, but damage to cables was identified. 

In short, SAPS said the Ga-Rankuwa police station would get its own mini sub-station. 

According to police, a contractor appointed by Public Works was responsible for switching off the power supply in June 2021. 

This sub-station was under the custodianship of Public Works, police said. 

A SAPS electrical team had also revealed that the removal of circuit breakers allegedly by Public Works allowed them to breach the electricity, meaning that whatever police had initiated and implemented would not address the issue of restoring power.

In May, the DA asked Minister of Public Works Patricia De Lille, through the National Council of Provinces, why the police station had been without power since October 2021, when the matter was reported to Public Works, what the reasons were for the delay and when electricity would be restored to the police station. 

On 9 June the minister responded:

I have been informed by the Department that the Ga-Rankuwa police station is one of the facilities that have been devolved to the South Africa Police Services (SAPS) to carry out their own maintenance functions.

"In addition, there has been no incident call logged by SAPS with DPWI relating to power outages at the facility."

Who will take accountability?

After listening to the presentation by SAPS and the police station, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on community safety, Alphina Ndlovana asked who would be taking accountability for failing the Ga-Rankuwa community by allowing the police station to be plunged into darkness, unable to operate effectively without electricity. 

She received no response. 

From the presentation it is clear that SAPS has blamed Public Works for the power supply being cut following the devolution of the police station.

However, it appears that the police station devolved more than a decade ago and power was only cut in June 2021. 

The police further said they were not informed that the power supply to the police station would be cut. 

Meanwhile, Public Works did not take accountability either, stating that the police station had been devolved and that it had no record of the incident being logged to the department for the past nine months. 

It appears that neither the police station, nor Public Works had put measures in place to ensure that the police station would have an alternate source of power. 

It was also not made clear why the police station's power had been cut in the first place, given that it had previously been powered alongside the forensic laboratory.

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