The reason: so Phahlane could be fetched from home and dropped off quickly at his office in Pretoria. The driver was allocated a house in record time while other officers have been waiting for years.
E-mails in possession of The Times indicate that the sudden approval of a state home for the driver — apparently in the space of a week — was highly unusual.
The Times has learned that another of Phahlane’s drivers was allocated a house under similar circumstances in October 2016. His current driver got a home in Capital Park, close to the national police headquarters and Phahlane’s home north of Pretoria.
Provincial police ordered the Pretoria Central police station’s housing committee to make the house ava i l ab l e . The e-mails include a note about a “discussion” between Phahlane and the Gauteng provincial police commissioner about a house being made available for Phahlane’s driver.
The Times is in possession of an e-mail that details the procedures that should have been followed in allocating police housing. It was sent to a police officer who had incorrectly applied to the provincial housing committee.
It explained that a police station’s cluster housing committee would have to identify a vacant house that had not been allocated to any qualifying member. If a house were available, a recommendation would have to be sent to the provincial housing committee chairman for a final decision.
The commander of the Tshwane West police cluster, Major-General Daniel Mtombeni, received the note from Gauteng provincial housing committee chairman Major-General V Napo on February 2. The next day he e-mailed Napo to say the house was “approved ” for the driver, who could occupy it on February 7.
Police spokesman Brigadier Sally de Beer said the matter had no relevance to Phahlane and accused those of criticising the allocation of a house to his driver of distortion and malice.
“The allocation of official houses is based on predetermined criteria which were fully complied with. The department will not deliberate on circumstances relating to the allocation of the accommodation referred to via the media.
“Those who opted to distort the facts in pursuance of their malicious agenda are advised to engage internal processes to register their grievances.”
News that the driver was bumped up the waiting list has angered many. A Pretoria policewoman has been on the housing waiting list for four years. “I was told my children and I could move into our home in 2012. I am still waiting. The policewoman who lives there now should have moved out, but never did,” she said.
When she complained, a provincial police housing committee member asked what her “problem” was. “When I told him that four years later I was still waiting and asked how long I should wait, he told me ‘forever ’.”
The policewoman shares a two bedroom home with her mother and her brother’s family. She said Phahlane’s high rank did not mean he could abuse the housing allocation system. “Why can’t he drive himself? How come he is so important that his driver needs a house?
His driver isn’t fighting crime every day. He doesn’t have a family constantly worrying about whether or not he will come home at night.” Another Pretoria constable said: “It’s been three years that I have lived in my shack in Mahube Valley [Mamelodi East]. I followed procedures. I filled in the paperwork, but I am still stuck here.” The policeman, who asked not to be named, fears for his life.
“I sent my family back to my wife’s mother in Limpopo. The tsotsis know that I am a policeman. They know I have a gun. I miss my children but I cannot take the risk and have them live with me any more.” The backlog in allocating temporary state homes to police officers is “chronic”, said the president of the SA Policing Union, Mpho Kwinika.
“Favouritism often creeps in with people allowed to stay in a house longer than the usual three years.” The temporary homes are “meant to provide members with enough time to find a house to either buy or rent”. He said that “the issuing of houses, especially married quarters, through misleading recommendations, is rife”.