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Thursday Apr 26, 2012

R15m wasted on Pretoria building 'revamp'

Three years on and despite millions of rand being budgeted for its refurbishment, Kruger Park is nothing more than a shell, a far cry from the days it accommodated thousands of inner city residents.

A file picture of Kruger Park flats during a fire which claimed five lives.

The residents moved out after a fire claimed five lives in July 2008. They removed their possessions and what was left was cleared out by the Tshwane Metro Council so work could being on the refurbishment of the building.

But work never started and thieves have stripped the building bare, taking away the copper, alluminium and the steel which was part of the structure. Police recently arrested a scrap metal dealer, on whose property fittings from Kruger Park were found.

Over the weekend, a metro police officer who had responded to

Treports of thieves carting zinc from the building was stabbed by a wouldbe-thief when he intervened.

"The building should be demolished because the cost of rehabilitating it would far outweigh the cost of demolishing it," a city official told the Pretoria News.

Saying an inspection of the building by city officials recently revealed that the building had nothing left but the structure he added: "Since housing gave over the provision of security for the site to the Metro Police security."

The 2008 fire broke out on two floors of the building which was started by rent defaulters who had been evicted from the neighbouring Schubart Park flats. Five lives were lost and 25 others seriously injured in the blaze.

The municipality failed to respond to queries on the state of Kruger Park or to confirm the absence of security by yesterday.

Requests for an outline of plans for Kruger Park went unanswered by spokesman Console Tleane while the municipal media liaison office said they were caught up in meetings.

MEC for Housing Joshua Ngonyama agreed that security needed to be stepped up to avoid further stripping of the building.

He said housing was responsible for security at Schubart Park flats which the council hopes to implode in the near future. "Schubart Park is totally cordoned off, with security personel stationed at all key areas and dogs partolling the precinct."

The security carry live ammunition and all entrances were sealed off, making it difficult to gain entry, he added.

Sam Moimane, DA councillor for the ward in which Kruger Park falls, blamed the municipality's lack of administration for the state of Kruger Park.

"The R15m set aside for the refurbishment cannot be accounted for at the moment," he said, adding that the municipality did not discuss their plans for Kruger Park with them.

"They clearly can't manage their property," said Moimane.

Pretoria News


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