Rats the size of cats, thousands of cockroaches, maggots, broken toilets and urine being thrown out of the windows are among the disgusting findings at the police residential quarters in Port Elizabeth.
Some of these squalid conditions at the Mount Road police station barracks were witnessed first-hand during a tour of the building on Tuesday.
The premises – situated behind the main police station building – house about 80 police officers who pay around R1,500 a month to live there.
A 3½-minute video emerged on social media on Monday showing piles of rubbish blocking the stairways, overflowing dustbins and food packets scattered across each floor.
On Tuesday, a team of cleaners was spotted working there, loading bags of refuse into a truck destined for a dump site.
On the seventh floor, piles of rubbish blocked the walkway and flies buzzed around the passages. The police are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the living quarters while the department of public works is responsible for building maintenance.
A strong stench of rubbish and urine permeated the building.
Almost all the bathrooms were broken, with rat faeces lining some of the corridors and the handles missing from several of the fire safety doors.
The higher you go up in the eight-storey building, the worse it gets, with used baby nappies, beer bottles, cigarette butts and what appears to be old food lining the fire escape walkways.
Maggots were visible among the cockroaches climbing the walls as the cleaners tried to collect the rubbish.
The first two floors of the building are occupied by the police’s specialist Gang Investigation Unit while the remaining floors are the sleeping barracks.
Some of the tenants have moved into the 4m x 4m bedrooms with their families – including babies, some of whom could be heard crying.
The inhabitants share communal bathrooms, showers and ablution facilities.
Part of the issue is the shutting down of the dining hall due to a standoff between tenants and police management in 2016.
The management had wanted to raise the rentals by R800 a month to include meals, so that the tenants did not have to cook in their rooms.
But the tenants refused to pay the extra amount at the time, leading to the closure of the dining hall.
Several police officers, who did not want to be named, said the issues around the filthy living conditions escalated after the dining hall was shut.
Those who work in the building said it had been a problem since 2018, when the building experienced a massive rat infestation. “Rats were climbing the drain pipes,” one officer said.
“You could walk through the building and see huge rats running around.
“Eventually, poison was put down everywhere and they died. It is disgusting.”
Another officer said that while working at their desks, they would suddenly see buckets of urine being thrown from the top floor windows into the inner well of the building.
“It is absolutely shocking. “People have booked off sick from infections that we assume came from the building.
“It was so bad at one stage, one person touched his eye and got an infection.
“In some cases, people have urinated in the passages of the fire escape.
“When confronted, the standard response is that they live here and the toilets on that floor do not work.”
Another officer said they had seen known criminals coming and going from the barracks. “They are stealing stuff. Where do you think the door handles have gone and some of the fire hydrants?”
The Afrikaans-speaking woman who shot the video – and is accompanied by a man addressed by passing police members as captain – starts at the staircase between the sixth and seventh floors before walking down the stairs.
According to the cleaners who were there at 10am, the person formerly in charge of the building quit the job and management had since failed to fill the post.
“It is disgusting and I do not know how those living here let it get to this,” one cleaner said.
“It is ridiculous. We [cleaners] have all been sent here from the police station to come clean now.”
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said the conditions depicted in the circulating video had been rectified, and the living quarters cleaned and refuse removed.
Soci said the situation was regrettable because the resources for waste management were provided.
“Two large refuse bins are placed at the front entrance of the single quarters for the occupants to dispose of their refuse.
“It is incumbent on every resident to remove refuse from his [or] her room and place it in the large refuse bins.
“Furthermore, each and every floor is equipped with smaller bins for their use.
“However, because the matter involves members and employees of the SAPS, who are fully aware of the rules of the occupation of living quarters, the matter will be investigated internally.”
The police using these barracks abuse this building like feral animals – they show no pride in themselves or their role to serve the public.
The rot and filth emanating from these hallways have similarities to how the average black South African feel about their future under the filthy rule of the African National Congress – the ANC is a rotten political movement that is lazy, and has lost its true calling.
Will the SAPS and the ANC ‘comrades’ please salvage what’s left of your dignity? If not the rest of us will get out our shivs and slide them mercifully into your primitive brains, because all of you neuron sputtering meat-heads in ANC Wards across South Africa are barely able to maintain bowel function , and perform your duties to the public. Sad state of affairs for sure.
The walking dead in the ANC of today are a sad reflection of what corruption, lack of discipline, lack of leadership, lack of proper education, and pure desperation for control will create. A group of sad and wretched power hungry dimwits who have become a burden on the suffering and woefully neglected South African citizens they are supposed to represent
SA- news team