DA pressure forces Department to act on derelict Public Works buildings

Issued by Sello Seitlholo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
12 Jun 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Sello Seitlholo MP.

The DA is happy to report that after sustained pressure on the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to act on its derelict buildings across the country, some of which had been illegally invaded posing risks to local communities, the DPWI’s acting Director General, Ms Nyeleti Makhubele, has confirmed that a circular will soon be issued inviting interested parties to lease over 300 DPWI buildings across the country.

Subsequent to this announcement, I have submitted a request to the DPWI asking that they provide me with a list of the buildings, their current location and the proposed lease amounts that they hope to rent them out for.

Early in June, the DA raised the issue with the DPWI’s Property Management Trading Entity after it became clear that its failure to properly manage its property portfolio was posing serious security risks to communities.

This follows an oversight visit that I conducted with the City of Cape Town Ward 62 Councillor, Emile Langenhoven, in which we saw first-hand how prolonged neglect of DPWI buildings in the area had made them staging centres for criminal activity and vagrant behaviour – forcing nearby communities to live in fear.

According to the Director General, the DPWI was finalising circular 135 through which over 300 properties will be put on the market for long-term lease agreements. The decision to lease these properties was prompted by the need to stop the continued large-scale illegal invasion of DPWI properties.

After years of resisting the leasing option, it is encouraging to note this welcome policy shift from the DPWI as it will not only generate income for the Department but secure its buildings from further invasion. In 2020, the four schools within Ward 62 in Cape Town, namely, Wynberg Girls High School, Wynberg Boys High School, Springfield Convent and Simon van der Stel Primary School, made a formal application submission to lease these properties from DPWI in an effort to render them useable and also to protect the learners from incidents of muggings as has been a daily occurrence in the area with schools having had to hire private security in order to protect the learners.

The DA calls on the DPWI to pursue a lease agreement process of its properties that is transparent and built on a consultative engagement with local communities. A culture of lethargy that had come to define the DPWI’s Property Management Trading Entity must be rooted out and concrete action taken to restore excellence in the management of government buildings.

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