Temporary air conditioning for Defence HQ


The Department of Defence Headquarters in Erasmusrand will receive two temporary air conditioning systems after the existing systems broke down, forcing staff to work for weeks in excessively hot conditions.

The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) earlier this month noted with concern the fact that air conditioning systems in the Erasmusrand building had been broken for weeks, and hundreds of staff were expected to work in office temperatures of 31 degrees C.

Sandu said this was “a direct threat to the occupational health and safety of military staff especially given the building is designed in a way that has no opening windows”.

In response, the Department of Defence is installing two temporary air conditioning systems while the original units are repaired, Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, director Defence Corporate Communication (DCC), told Beeld this week. He said the existing air conditioning units are more than 30 years old and have reached the end of their lives.

Refurbishing the old air conditioning systems should be completed by the end of November.

Apart from concern about poor ventilation, Sandu expressed concern that medicine stored “in the facility is in danger of spoiling because of the excessive temperature”. This is a further health risk and, Sandu National Secretary Pikkie Greeff maintains, non-compliance with legal pharmaceutical requirements.

The Armscor building in Erasmusrand is also home to Thandi Modise’s Ministry of Defence, the Defence Secretariat and a number of Armscor departments including the chief executive.

As with the building on the western side of the Pretoria CBD housing SA Air Force (SAAF) headquarters, reported to Sandu by staff there as suffering a similar malaise, the union has gone the legal route in search of urgent repair to installed climate control systems.