The Minister who stole Christmas

Please find an attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

It seems that this year the Grinch can step aside as Minister Patricia De Lille takes “grinchness” to a whole new level.

SAPS members residing in secure and safe houses in Cape Town were advised that they must vacate their homes by 31 December 2021 as a market-related rental of triple their existing payments will be instituted from 1 January 2022.

The residents of these houses are not mere tenants, but are members of SAPS who have been moved to these houses to protect them and their families as remaining in their own communities would place them in danger. This danger being as a direct result of their work to keep us safe.

The rental increases follow an assessment conducted by Minister De Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to determine market-related rentals on these properties.

While it is certainly long overdue that the DPWI begin to take their role as government landlord seriously and demonstrate more of a financially sound approach to their business, this is not where they should be starting. Housing that is provided to SAPS members whose lives are under threat from gangsters can never be valued using the same methodology as that for an ordinary citizen on the open market.

The SAPS Housing Policy No 3 of 2016 provides that official housing is allocated based on a 3 year cycle, which now expires on 31 December 2021.  Some of the members facing eviction have only had the benefit for 2 years or less. Around 50 families have appealed their evictions and the increase in rent but their appeals were dismissed without any reasons being provided. And they are now faced with moving back to their dangerous environments or paying, in some instances, more in rent than what they earn.  And, whatever is short from their salaries can be drawn from their pensions, so the government will not be out of pocket.

The SAPS Housing Policy is very clear that priority will be given to those with ranks below Lieutenant-Colonel.  How is it possible that where this is the target market, the Department of Public Works can determine a market-related value that exceeds the take home pay of some of the beneficiaries?

These properties are for the sole use of SAPS for official housing.  They are not available on the open market and should not be treated as such. On 1 January 2022, families of our police officers are going to face threats to their lives or financial ruin because Minister De Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has suddenly embraced the idea of capitalism.

Minister De Lille needs to urgently address the lack of a coherent policy on leasing with her Department in order to prevent this kind of tone deaf and ill-conceived administrative bungling.  The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure must start to serve the citizens of this country and not just the client departments.