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Thursday Mar 29, 2012

SAPS, Stats SA 'are to blame for lockout'

The government entities that have been locked out from a central Johannesburg building have only themselves to blame for the non-payment of rent, according to the Department of Public Works.

Thami Mchunu, a spokesman for the department, said neither the SAPS nor Statistics SA had issued a procurement instruction to the department on whether to renew or terminate their leases in the old JSE Building.

Mchunu said the leases for both client departments had expired and were currently running on a month-to-month basis. He said: "Rental payments were made on a monthly basis for the SAPS until November 2011, while we were waiting for the procurement instruction, which has to date not been issued by the client department."

Mchunu said: "The Stats SA month-to-month rental was also stopped in December 2011 because there was no procurement instruction. After receiving the necessary documents on March 26, the department approved to pay arrear rental from December 2011 to March 2012. Payment for arrear rental is now being processed for Stats SA. The renewal process for the Stats SA lease is under way."

Richard Currie, the managing director of the Currie Group, which manages the building on behalf of Hotsprops 85, said the department owed R3.34 million up to March 15 for rent and services.

Employees of the SAPS and Stats SA turned up for work on Monday only to find that the four floors they occupied in the building had been padlocked.

Michael Knight, the caretaker, said later in the day, the SAPS staff were given full access to enable them to provide essential public services.

On Tuesday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi addressed staff at the regional office in Johannesburg. He said since he had been appointed some four months ago, it was inevitable that the department should have a turnaround strategy, given the bad publicity it attracted in 2011.

"Given the scandals around leases, I... centralised the leases to ensure security and accountablity... I am aware that it is causing problems and leading to backlogs. We are currently addressing the problem and I hope to be able to announce changes soon."

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