R52m Diepsloot police station still lies abandoned
The R52 million Diepsloot Police Station has been left to decay after the contractor who was given a tender to build it fell on hard times.
Police officers in the north Johannesburg township have been forced to squat at the local metro police building, even though their building should have opened two years ago.
The contractor, Realeka Investments, failed to finish the project on time.
Public works department spokesperson Thamsanqa Mchunu said the department cancelled the tender in 2010 after the contractor “defaulted because of cash-flow problems”.
The project was abandoned at the end of June that year.
Mchunu said his department was trying to secure funds to complete the police station in August this year.
Community liaison officer for the project Abraham Mabuke, who is also a Diepsloot ward councillor, said the building had the capacity to house 200 police officers and additional administrative staff, whereas the current building accommodates only 40 full-time officers to service the township’s 300 000 residents.
Mabuke said the building was almost 70% complete when the project ground to a halt.
Part of the roof had since blown off, he said.
Wild vegetation can be seen growing on the pavement and encroaching on the building.
“It is a serious challenge. The department of public works promised to appoint a new contractor in the new financial year, but this is not happening. The police station is now a white elephant,” he said.
He said the police station was needed by the community because crime was still high in Diepsloot, the most common being house break-ins, assaults and robberies.
Greg Schneemann, the ANC MP representing the Randburg/ Bryanston constituency under which Diepsloot falls, said his office had been following up on the matter. Schneemann said it was of concern to him that the police station was “not fully complete”.
He said he had taken the issue up with the national police commissioner and the police minister’s office, but a court case involving the government and the contractor had been a hurdle.
“But there is nothing any of them can do because of the court action. The police station is not abandoned,” Schneemann said.
He said building a police station in Diepsloot had been “on the cards for a number of years”.
Previously, Diepsloot’s residents were served by the Erasmia Police Station. Erasmia is nearly 20km from Diepsloot.
This made it difficult for residents to reach the police as they had to take a taxi to open a case, and many could not open cases at night as the police station was out of reach.
Realeka Investments boss Ali Komane admitted that he had run into financial problems, but blamed his woes on a “financier” he had brought in to help him out when he ran into trouble.
He said he had told the department about his problems, but said he was busy seeking justice through the courts.
“It is a very sensitive matter. I don’t want to talk until the courts have made a ruling,” Komane said.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said Diepsloot residents had previously raised concerns about vigilantism, which had led to the building of the police station in the area.
He said the SAPS continued to provide policing services in the area through the help of other law enforcement agencies despite the current situation, but would like to have a “fully fledged police station”.