Thieves show their contempt for cops
Damage is expected to run into millions of rands. The station was stripped of doors, ceiling, geysers, cupboards, plugs, basins, sinks, kitchen utensils, light bulbs, tiles, furniture and electrical equipment, including mortuary fridges.
Carletonville’s police officers are now crammed into three small premises in the West Rand mining town.
The space is inadequate, and there are no holding cells or parking spaces. The rent costs the police about R127000 a month.
A senior Carletonville policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “It’s a messy situation. We [do not] have sufficient office space. We are using the Khutsong police station barracks as holding cells.
“We also don’t have a mortuary – we use the ones in Johannesburg and Roodepoort.”
The officer said the police had to move out of the police station in 2008 so that it could be renovated. It had been built on dolomitic soil and had become unsafe.
“They fixed the sinkholes, and renovated and painted the building. We pay R127 000 for these three very small buildings in town while we have a spacious property sitting idle.”
Vandalism began after the Department of Public Works – responsible for the upkeep of state buildings – had completed the bulk of the renovations.
This was despite a security company being contracted to guard the property.
When The Times visited the Carletonville police station this week, the property – which includes a mortuary, vehicle repair workshop and a barracks – had been stripped of just about everything of value.
The police officer said he did not know why the police had not moved back into the premises immediately after the completion of the major renovations.
“We raised the issue with the Gauteng commissioner of police at our last meeting and he said they were looking into upgrading this building.
“But in the meantime they said they would extend the lease on our current premises for another three years.”
He said the costs of renovating the building a second time would be prohibitive.
“That’s a lot of money. Just the structure will cost us a lot of money.” DA police spokesman Dianne Kohler Barnard said that the Department of Public Works had “failed”.
“They are now back at square one and have to re-equip an empty building. How bizarre, that the police will now have to investigate a crime committed at a police station.
“It’s absolutely terrible, but typical of Public Works. For them to allow that place to be stripped is outrageous. Taxpayers have been failed miserably,” she said.
Public Works spokesman Thami Mchunu said he was still gathering information to determine exactly what happened.
He could not say how much the initial renovations had cost, or the extent of the damage caused by the thieves.
“I will give you the full details as soon as possible,” he said.