Police officers face eviction from safe houses

Some of the wives and children of policemen outside SAPS headquarters.

Wives of policemen facing eviction from SAPS housing protested outside the Western Cape Provincial Head Office of SAPS in Green Point last Thursday.

The women were supported by activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi and the South African Police and Allied Workers Union.

In a statement issued to the media, Ndifuna Ukwazi said the police officers are moved to official housing and safehouses if they have had threats on their lives.

They said the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, which owns the housing, had imposed excessive rent increases on SAPS members living in these well-located areas and that these police officers had been requested to vacate official housing provided by SAPS by the end of this month or be subjected to a rental increase of 1177%.

“We are here to beg and plead that the contract be extended,” said Uyanda Maqwazima who lived in Delft with her policeman husband and their five children.

“They also said that we need to pay R11000 for rent and that is what the policemen earn, which means we won’t have any money in January.

“We are living in this safe house because criminals from Delft threatened us, they wanted his gun, it’s not safe there for us. We are pleading with them to change their minds,” she said.

Uyanda Maqwazima addressing fellow protestors and SAPS officers.

The wives of the affected policemen said that besides the financial burden they faced, their personal lives were being negatively affected.

“You don’t consider our feelings. We are battling depression, our husbands are angry because they feel like they are failing us, their families,” said Tina Mnqwazi.

“We have spoken to the minister Bheki Cele face to face, we told him about this problem and there is still no solution,” she said.

The wives alluded to the recent murders of policemen in Kraaifontein as well as the killing of Colonel Charl Kinnear in 2020.

“Our husbands have to fight for them, protect the communities in the streets. We are battling depression and problems in our home because of the decision that this SAPS have made, it’s not fair, they have forgotten about us on the lower level,” said Yolisa Ntshangase.

Imtiaz Fazel, acting director-general of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) said they were not involved in the eviction of SAPS members.

“The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is the custodian of the subject properties, however, the properties are allocated to the South African Police Services (SAPS), whereby the management of the properties resides with the SAPS.

“The management entails the allocation of properties to its officials in line with SAPS’ own internal processes and policies for the purposes of official accommodation,” Mr Fazel said in a statement.

“In 2018 and 2019 respectively, SAPS approached and requested the department to commission Comparable Market Analysis (CMA’s) on a number of properties occupied by their officials for housing purposes. The Department complied and submitted the comparable market analysis reports.

“If SAPS members were notified of rental increases then this was effected by SAPS management on their own volition and as part of their own internal processes. The DPWI did not implement any rental increases on the properties managed by the SAPS. This is also an administrative matter which Minister Patricia de Lille is not involved in.”

SAPS Colonel Andrè Traut said that this is an internal matter.

“Our Housing Policy is a transparent and fair process where tenants of police accommodation are rotated on a three-year basis. Our members are acquainted with the policy and grievances in this regard will only be facilitated if the correct channels are followed,” he said.

The wives of the policemen say they have spoken to Minister Bheki Cele but no action has been taken.