More than 800 police officers living in barracks in Durban could be forceably evicted if they do not immediately leave the buildings, which management says are unsafe.
Natalia Court, Somtseu Court, Laiticia Residence (in Stalwart Simelane Street) and Excelsior Court (in Peter Mokaba Road, Berea) are expected to be officially condemned in coming days.
The buildings are in dire need of repairs, according to a health and safety report conducted by municipal officials and the fire department a few months ago.
The Durban Central Police Station is also set to undergo a multi-million rand revamp.
But the residents refuse to move and are demanding the SAPS find them alternative accommodation and extend the deadline to vacate.
On May 8, all residents living in these buildings were issued with notices to leave by May 31.
Failure to do so would result in police management seeking an eviction order in the Durban High Court, the notice read.
The notice stated that since 2009, the SAPS had made several attempts to get residents to vacate the buildings for major structural upgrades.
“The condition of the official quarters poses a serious danger to anyone residing or using the buildings. Unless immediate steps are taken to save the buildings, they may collapse and cause harm to life, limb and property,” it said.
It stated that no other alternative official accommodation was available in the Durban area. The 16-storey Natalia Court and five-storey Somtseu Court do not have lifts that work, raw sewage is spilling on to the playfield, deep cracks have appeared in the structures and water tanks are contaminated and outdated.
All four buildings have illegal tenants and have gained a reputation as being havens for prostitutes, druglords and foreign nationals.
Residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they paid R200 a month rental.
“We cannot afford to move out to other accommodation. It is too expensive. We have our families to support and finding a new place to stay will put a serious dent in our already tight budget.”
The residents said many of their children attended schools close to home.
“It is the middle of the year. We cannot move our kids to new schools now. Also, many of us have paid the year’s school fees in advance.”
“Some of the policemen and women in the single quarters barracks are from out of town. They live and work in Durban and support their families in areas such as Ladysmith, Newcastle and other outlying areas. They are asking to be tranferred to their home towns. But, this request has been turned down.
“Police management have declined to find us alternative accommodation. We are asking them to negotiate with us and find an amicable solution.
“How are we expected to find new homes, rake up deposits and relocate our families in less than a month? These flats are in bad shape. But, we have no choice but to stay here because of the cheap rent.”
Many claimed they were also blacklisted with credit bureaux and this prevented them from applying for low cost homes or taking loans to pay deposits for rented homes.
The residents confirmed illegal tenants were a problem and paid up to R1 500 a month in rent. “Each flat has more than 20 or 30 illegal people. Management should focus on getting them out first.”
Tenants are asking for an assurance that once renovations have been completed at the buildings, they would be able to return.
They said police management could not guarantee this.
The tenants have asked police union Popcru to intervene.
According to the SAPS housing policy, tenants have to reapply for state housing after two years. But, in some instances, tenants have been living in the barracks for more than 30 years.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker, said they had no obligation to provide any person with housing.
He said no guarantees would be given that the flats would be reallocated to the same tenants.
“Housing is granted to members in terms of our housing policy for a period of two years and then it is re-advertised. They can apply and his/her application will be assessed together with the other applicants to see who is in greater need of housing,” said Naicker. - Daily News