VIP cops fight eviction

Posted On Thursday, 02 February 2012 02:00 Published by
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Members of the police's VIP Protection Unit are among about 200 police officers facing eviction from the Pretoria Central police barracks.

By Sipho Masombuka

Members of the police's VIP Protection Unit, responsible for the transportation and safety of President Jacob Zuma and his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, are among about 200 police officers facing eviction from the Pretoria Central police barracks.

Gauteng police say that the Public Works Department wants to upgrade the building but its "armed and ready" residents are questioning the reason for the eviction and have threatened "bloodshed" if anyone attempts to carry it out.

According to residents, the evictions were to have been at midnight on Tuesday and they waited with their guns, ready for a fight, but nothing happened.

"We are trained to kill and we are not going to hesitate. I did not sleep waiting for them to come. I am not scared and I am prepared to die. I will only move out of here in a body bag. Let them come; we are waiting for them," threatened an officer who did not want to be named.

The building used to accommodate about 220 officers but some moved out in November when they received eviction notices.

There are currently 130 officers in the single quarters - some of whom are from Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State.

More officers were preparing to move out of the 16-storey building on Schoeman Street yesterday .

"The only place we can afford is a squatter camp where we can just put up shacks.

"Nobody cares about us though we are responsible for protecting citizens from criminals," a constable stationed in Cullinan said.

"Instead, we are being forced out onto the streets where we are going to be targeted by criminals after our guns."

Residents of the building, which has faulty lifts and broken toilets and baths, said renovations had been carried out before without evictions.

"They want people they can control because we are not supposed to have visitors after 10pm, let alone have someone sleep over.

"We are not allowed to have a social life and we are targeted because we refuse to obey these standing orders," said a Johannesburg-based warrant officer.

The officers, who refused to give their names because they are afraid of victimisation, said no alternative accommodation had been arranged, despite promises.

"The way this whole thing is being carried out is demeaning and inconsiderate. There was no consultation with the barracks committee.

"Instead, we woke up one morning in mid-November with eviction notices shoved under our doors," said a 54-year-old sergeant who has been living in the barracks for 22 years.

The officers pay R800 a month for rent and their February rent has already been deducted from their January salaries.

Gauteng police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said renovations and upgrading should be completed in about nine months.

"All residents were informed timeously of the renovations as well as of the fact that the state has no alternative accommodation available during the time of repair and renovations," he said.

Source: The Times

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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