Photos — Telkom Towers offices unfit for humans after police takeover

The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) national head office in Pretoria was declared unfit for human use and had to be evacuated immediately on Tuesday, 27  February 2024.

The office at the so-called Telkom Towers was bought and supposedly renovated by SAPS eight years ago at a total cost of around R900 million.

Police members working at the offices complained about its condition to Solidarity.

In addition to general complaints about the offices being dirty and contaminated, the allegations raised included the following:

  • The offices had a shortage of clean drinking water,
  • There was poor and broken air conditioning and ventilation.
  • Some of the toilets were broken and dirty.
  • Some emergency exits were closed or unmarked.
  • Lifts were broken.
  • Fire-fighting equipment was inadequate.

Solidarity’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) division sent letters to SAPS and Lieutenant-General S.W. Chamane, divisional commissioner, but these went unanswered.

Part of the SAPS head office at the old Telkom Towers buildings.

An inspector from the Department of Labour and Solidarity’s OHS division subsequently paid a visit to the premises on Tuesday, after which it was closed until a follow-up inspection declared it safe again.

The list of violations against the OHS Act issued by the department official included allowing employees to work in the offices without ventilation either by natural or mechanical systems, no lighting, and unserviced and operational equipment.

The building also did not have the required Certificates of Occupancy or approval from the fire brigade.

Solidarity OHS division head Johan Böning said some complainants reported suffering respiratory illnesses and allergic reactions, presumably due to dirty office space and poor ventilation.

Workers also complained of dirty carpets and problems with lice and cockroaches.

The entrance to what used to be a cafeteria at the offices.

Solidarity’s public industry network co-ordinator Renate Pieterse said the head office houses SAPS’s legal and corporate management departments, among others.

Police minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Fannie Masemola should also sit at these offices.

Pieterse said while 24 of the building’s floors were considered unliveable, Cele’s designated office on the top floor had been newly renovated with “good technological security devices”.

The SAPS head office may only reopen after a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued, and an inspection by the fire brigade has been carried out.

Damaged ceiling tiles and fire sprinkler at the offices.

Solidarity deputy general secretary of public industry, Helgard Cronjé, said it was shocking that the country’s official law enforcers could not comply with basic security legislation.

“Minister Cele can use police money and time to fly with a police helicopter to the ANC’s manifesto launch in Durban, but back home, the head office is completely dilapidated,” Cronjé said.

“What are the priorities — ANC politics or the safety of citizens? I think the answer is obvious.”

Cronjé added that this was a serious matter because of its detrimental impact on SAPS employee morale, which would affect the fight against crime.

One of the toilets in the building.

The Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) previously complained about the limited resources that SAPS detectives had to work with.

SRI economic researcher Theuns du Buisson said that many detectives had no Internet, no email communication, no telephones, no stationery, no printers, no ink, no vehicles, no assistance, no fingerprint powder, no brooms, no mops and no toilet paper.

The SRI highlighted the appalling working environment at the Pretoria Central police station in particular, where raw sewage was running down its interior walls at one point in November 2022.

Below are more photos showing the state of the SAPS head offices at the old Telkom Towers building in Pretoria.


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Photos — Telkom Towers offices unfit for humans after police takeover