DURBAN – Altogether 115 people have been arrested for trespassing in the Durban Central police station single and married living quarters, including police officers illegally renting out rooms, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Saturday.

The illegal occupation or hijacking of buildings has become very common in South Africa, Brigadier Jay Naicker said.

“This disturbing trend has resulted in many buildings being occupied without basic necessities, such as water, lights or proper sanitation. Over and above that, these hijacked buildings become a hub for criminal activity,” he said.

The South African Police Service (SAPS), assisted by other relevant roleplayers, were charged with the responsibility of making sure that these buildings which had become a haven for criminals were dealt with effectively and that the perpetrators were brought to book, Naicker added.

“Before we as the South African Police Service can clean up illegally occupied buildings in our communities, we must first start with our very own buildings,” KwaZulu-Natal acting police commissioner Nhanhla Mkhwanazi said.

“It has become apparent over some time that residences which were built to house our police officials have been illegally accommodating people who do not work for the South African Police Service. This has resulted in these buildings being in a state of dilapidation and not fit for human habitation.

“The fact that people are on our police premises illegally also poses a risk to the police officers that work from these places,” Mkhwanazi said.

Therefore, Mkhwanazi decided “that a clean-up operation should be undertaken in our very own police living quarters at the Durban Central Police Station”.

In the early hours of Friday morning, members of various units, including public order policing, the K9 unit, the special task force, and the tactical response team conducted an operation in the male and female single quarters and the married quarters.

During the operation, a large number of people were found in these living quarters when they should not be there.

In total, 115 people were arrested, including some police officers who “should not be in those buildings”.

All the suspects were charged for trespassing and given a R300 fine.

A further two dockets of corruption were opened after police established that some people were renting out rooms in these buildings to other occupants, Naicker added.

Source: African News Agency