By Doreen Mokgolo
Being an officer stationed at Kwa-Thema Police Station in Ekurhuleni could be considered an extreme sport.
The officers are safer patrolling the streets than being inside the run-down structure, where they are used to ducking and diving to avoid the sagging ceiling and what is left of the roof structure.
A 2017 report by the Labour Department found the building to be unsafe for human occupation, while the police holding cells were deemed unsafe by the Human Rights Commission 12 years ago.
The holding cells are now used as a storeroom for old mattresses, bicycles and backpacks belonging to prisoners from long ago.
The mobile holding cells meant to house detectives have been vandalised by criminals, and only their basic structures remain.
The station’s charge office has been moved to the canteen and the ablutions malfunction, forcing police officers to depend on residents who live near the station if they need to use a washroom.
Though the building is crumbling around the employees, the station was recognised as the “best police station in Ekurhuleni” two weeks ago.
For over two years, Ward 74 councillors have been knocking on the doors of various government departments pleading for a new police station.
“We are always offered promises. In 2018 a commission was set up to remedy the problem but after a few months, it stopped its sessions.
“At the moment, we are waiting for a miracle because all the government offices have failed us,” councillor Thulane Simelane said.
On Wednesday leaders of faith-based organisations took to the streets demanding a new structure.
The protest was one of many marches carried out by residents over the years — none of which has yielded any results.
Station commander Colonel Nhlanhla Kunene said even though they don’t have a safe police station, they continue to serve the residents of Kwa-Thema with diligence.
“Our duty is to serve and keep the residents of Kwa-Thema safe, even if it means opening dockets in our police vans,” he said.
Resident Joe Mahlangu said if all fails they are going to take the fight to the highest authority in the country.
“The MEC of community safety Faith Mazibuko made promises and didn’t deliver. The Minister of Police Bheki Cele has also failed,” he said.
Pictured above: Kwa-Thema police station.
Image source: Dylan Mohlala