The Citizen (Gauteng)
This is a R35m cop shop
Crumbling foundations is all the Dr JS Moroka municipality in Mpumalanga can show of their ‘state-of-the-art’ police station that was abandoned a month after building started. Millions more were then poured into temporary structures.
Even a temporary police station erected after protests by residents remains unoccupied.
What was meant to be a R35-million state-of-the-art police station for the rural community of Katjibane in Mpumalanga seven years ago is today nothing but abandoned, incomplete and crumbling foundations.
Construction of the Pungutsha police station in the Dr JS Moroka municipality started in 2014 and was supposed to be completed in eight months.
But the site was abandoned less than a month later.
When the frustrated community rioted and demanded answers, millions of rands more were splashed on a temporary facility.
The temporary police station, complete with paving and electrical and plumbing fittings for the six prefabricated cabins adjacent to the abandoned site, was, however, never occupied.
Vandals have since moved in to strip the facility’s fittings, beginning with the perimeter welcome sign’s lighting.
For years, Pungutsha Traditional Council headman Thomas Maluleke said the community has pleaded, marched and rioted countless times for a police station.
That site, now an eyesore, is a sad reminder of our dashed hopes.
Thomas Maluleke Pungutsha Traditional Council headman
“There was a sense of success when the construction of the police station finally started.
“Little did we know it would be a pipe dream.
“That site, now an eyesore, is a sad reminder of our dashed hopes,” he said.
The nearest police station to the village is Mmamethlake police station, on the north eastern border of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, about 25km away.
This means to get a simple affidavit or certification, residents have to fork out R60 in taxi fare for a return trip to Mmamethlake, a luxury for the mainly unemployed residents surviving on social grants.
Katjibane Task Team coordinator Joseph Seboya lamented the fact that such simple activities are now full-day activities for the community.
“Everything has to stop for you to get an affidavit.
“Government cannot even send two police officers to the temporary facility, on which they spent millions, for a simple service of affidavits and to certify documents,” he said.
Seboya said robbery, stock theft and domestic violence was rife in the village, but that they were helpless because it takes Mmamethlake police hours to arrive when called.
Simon Macheke, Economic Freedom Fighters ward 27 treasurer, said their information was that a security company was being paid to guard the facility but two chairs and a water bottle were the only sign that there were guards.
“The guards ran away in March when the community rioted about the police station yet again, and they never returned, but the security company is pocketing money.
“Vandals have started stripping the facility and there is nothing we can do but watch in despair,” he said.
Department of public works spokesman Thamsanqa Mchunu said he was unable to respond, as information has to be sourced from officials working on this matter on the ground.
Mpumalanga department of public works, roads and transport spokesman Moeti Mmusi said infrastructure was key to the fight against crime.
He said this was why MEC Vusi Shongwe was particularly concerned about the missing police station.
“Such matters are obviously of concern because they directly impact on service delivery,” he said.
But the provincial department is yet to explain why the temporary facility was never occupied in a community that was so desperate for SA Police Service.