An investigative report has revealed the shocking and devastating living condition of police officers at the Gauteng police barracks.
Taking a tour round the Herdeshof police flats in Sophiatown, reporters met a daring state of the Gauteng police barracks with multiple break-ins‚ intermittent water supply‚ smashed windows and broken lifts
These are the conditions police officers and their families living in Gauteng police barracks deal with daily. These could have a negative effect on officers’ morale‚ affecting their performance, says the Institute of Security Studies.
Standing on the stairs of the ninth floor of the Herdeshof police flats in Sophiatown‚ the investigative body was informed of cases of petty crimes perpetrated in the building.
According to one of the police officer’s wife who said she has lived in the building for nearly 15 years, families of the police officials are no longer safe as as people steal cars and other valuable properties there on regular basis
“The other day a group of people tried to attack a woman. Luckily she managed to run up the stairs‚” she said, adding that in a bid to protect their lives and properties, Herdeshof’s residents took it upon themselves to close one entrance to the property — yet there is no access control at the other entrance.
Timeslive further reported a notice at the Herdeshof building which reads: “Please be warned there’s an influx of vagrants inside the flat some they sleep here and the others come to the bins and walk through corridors next to our doors claiming they collect empty plastic bottles. Let’s work together crime is escalating because of this (sic)‚”
As part of the investigation, the publication reported that common robbery rose from 142 in 2014-15 to 239 cases in 2015-16 and robbery with aggravating circumstances going from 457 to 649 in the same period.
The garages have long been abandoned with doors to most not able to lock. Cars stood parked in the visitors parking bays at Herdeshof‚ while lifts at the barracks is yet to function since the past one decade.
“They tried to fix it a few years ago‚ but overnight the cables were stolen‚” said a sergeant who has lived in the barracks for more than 10 years.
When asked why residents still live in the building despite its porousness and lack of amenities, the police management said those living in the barracks said they couldn’t move out if police management didn’t provide them with alternative accommodation.
Like the Herdeshof building, the barracks opposite the Springs police station on the East Rand‚ hasn’t had running water for the past two weeks according to the report.
“We have to take a bucket and walk to the police station to fill it if we want to cook or wash ourselves‚” said a warrant officer who has been with the police force for 30 years.
“It’s impossible to live like this‚” he said.
Meanwhile, Police spokesperson Major-General Sally de Beer said police management had started with renovations at some other Gauteng police barracks like the Alexandra and Norwood police barracks‚ and “the need for repairs and renovations” at the Herdeshof police barracks had been identified.
“Over the past two years the national Department of Public Works and the South African Police Service [SAPS] have held inspections and meetings with members staying at different barracks‚” said De Beer.
“The departments have started executing plans for the improvement of the living conditions and security at all police premises. The occupation‚ health and safety aspects within the barracks are also a concern to the SAPS and are being addressed in order to be maintained according to the correct standards and specifications throughout the country‚” she said.
Dr Johan Burger‚ a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies’ crime and justice programme‚ also reportedly said police officers living and working in poor conditions could “feel that they aren’t [regarded as] important enough.
“It could contribute to feelings of neglect and inferiority — and that can have a negative effect on effective policing.” the researcher said.