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POPCRU raises concerns about lack of consultation on SAPS staff relocation from Telkom building

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has strongly criticised the lack of consultation regarding the relocation of police staff members following the recent closure and evacuation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) headquarters at the Telkom Towers complex in Pretoria.  


As a result, POPCRU is calling for formal discussions between relevant stakeholders, emphasising the importance of including the union in decision-making processes concerning such significant changes.


"The recent events at Telkom Towers have severely disrupted the terms of employment for those affected. So, as POPCRU, we insist on being part of discussions to ensure that the rights and concerns of workers and our members are being adequately addressed. There must be transparent communication and consultation with all parties involved.” states Thulani Ngwenya, President of POPCRU.


Furthermore, POPCRU states that the responsibility for managing public buildings, such as the Telkom Towers complex, should be transferred from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to the Director Generals of respective government departments.


This follows the union’s longstanding concerns about mismanagement and neglect observed in government-owned properties, which it believes can be laid at the door of the DPWI.


“The control of maintenance budgets should not lie with the DPWI, as they have consistently failed to manage buildings effectively. Telkom Towers is just one example of their failures, but there are many more instances where maintenance issues have been neglected, resulting in substandard working conditions for government employees across various sectors, including in our country’s police stations, traffic offices, and prisons,” he says.  


“We believe that it is time for the DPWI to relinquish building management duties. Instead, each department should take ownership and responsibility for managing their own buildings and overseeing their own maintenance requirements to ensure efficiency and accountability.” 


POPCRU has further urged the Department of Employment and Labour to conduct thorough safety inspections of all public buildings housing essential services. Ngwenya stresses the importance of implementing stringent measures to guarantee safe working conditions for all employees, emphasising that workplace safety should be a top priority for government agencies.


Likewise, the union is seeking accountability from SAPS management regarding the dilapidated state of the Telkom Towers building.


Ngwenya voiced dissatisfaction with the management of SAPS for their decision to have Minister of Police Bheki Cele work from home due to their negligent handling of ensuring office compliance with health and safety standards.


We call upon Minister Bheki Cele to conduct a thorough investigation into the responsible parties and implement appropriate disciplinary measures, treating this issue with the same seriousness as any other misconduct within the department. The obstruction of the minister's ability to operate within a SAPS facility is perceived as a deliberate sabotage aimed at hindering ministerial operations, and we eagerly await the findings of the investigation.


How can management expect SAPS members to work in buildings that they themselves would not work in? Management must lead by example, and prioritise the well-being of employees by ensuring safe and conducive working environments.”


Finally, POPCRU has called for a comprehensive investigation into the validity of certificates of occupancy and compliance for the Telkom Towers building, as well as the allocation and expenditure of refurbishment and maintenance budgets since its purchase.


“The state of Telkom Towers points to alarming signs of irregularities. Those responsible must be held to account, and government must implement the necessary changes to prevent the same from happening again,” concludes Ngwenya.

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