SAPS National Intervention Unit in worse state than head office – Solidarity

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Another SA Police Service (SAPS) facility – its National Intervention Unit (NIU) in Tshwane’s Bon Accord – is “dilapidated” with an adjacent informal settlement a potential security risk to the site which, among others, is used for ammunition and weapons storage.

Centurion-headquartered trade union Solidarity first brought the sorry state of affairs at the NIU to SAPS management’s attention in 2021.

According to Solidarity’s Johan Böning, who heads its occupational health and safety (OHS) division, and Renate Pieterse, public industry network co-ordinator, the neglect of police infrastructure at the NIU is “even worse than what recently came to light at SAPS head office in Pretoria”.

Inspections by Solidarity personnel saw what was the Telkom headquarters north of Church Square in the Pretoria central business district (CBD) declared unfit for human occupation and evacuated on 27 February.

Now, in a 15 March statement, the pair said buildings at the NIU are worse than the former Telkom Towers and have “deteriorated even further since official Solidarity correspondence with SAPS top management in 2021”.

They point out, unlike the head office, the NIU facility is not only used for administration.

A dilapidated boundary fence and wall enclose uncompleted, looted and neglected buildings which are used to store firearms, including high calibre semi-automatic firearms, as well as ammunition, bulletproof vests and vehicles.

“Theft is a common occurrence here. There is an informal settlement on adjacent State-owned land and the settlement has grown at a rapid pace, posing a serious threat to the security of the police premises,” their statement reads in part.

“The place is dilapidated – now even worse than when we first brought it to the attention of SAPS top management in writing. The NIU is an elite police unit whose highly trained members must be able to handle stressful situations such as hostage dramas and kidnappings,” Pieterse said, adding an investigation into the security risks and “general decay” at the NIU facility along with “steps to be taken by management” is urgently needed.

“Some offices and living quarters,” according to her, “look like plundered ruins”.

An encroaching informal settlement can be seen at bottom left of the NIU facility in Pretoria.

“There is no supply of clean drinking water and during our previous visit water had to be bucketed out from rubbish bins, while power cables had been stolen. Windowpanes were shattered, doors were broken off their hinges and bathrooms were in a shocking state.”

She has photographic evidence of the sad condition of the NIU.

Böning maintains the sorry state of the “important NIU” shows the SAPS is unable to even protect its own premises.

“How can the public then have confidence in them and believe that they are competent to protect the communities in South Africa? It also shows that police management is not taking any steps to prevent the total decay at national offices, police stations and units. The health and safety of police employees are seriously jeopardised morale is being destroyed by police management that seemingly does not care,” the Solidarity OHS specialist said.

“The extent of the decay is absolutely shocking and so it is that loyal taxpayers will increasingly pay a high price for apparent incompetence.”