25/04/2008 20:22 - (SA)
Pretoria - Heightened security is one of the many reasons the US Embassy is terminating household leases, a spokesperson said on Friday.
US Embassy spokesperson in Pretoria, Sharon Hudson-Dean said the embassy terminated at least 20 household leases for its staff annually.
"The Embassy reviews the inventory of housing for its staff annually and adjusts the type and number of leased residences according to the needs of the mission.
"Every year, the Embassy terminates approximately twenty leases, and this year is no different," said Hudson-Dean.
This follows reports that the embassy was terminating the leases because of high crime rates.
"A heightened security profile is just one of many reasons that leases are reassessed," she said.
She said that the demographics of embassy staff had changed from large families to married couples with no children and single people.
"Smaller families require smaller houses. Several recent lease terminations have been due to the fact that the embassy no longer requires as many large houses," said Hudson-Dean.
She said that security was a "serious" concern to ambassador Eric Bost and carried a heavy weight in the reassessment process.
"As new Embassy personnel arrive, we try to place them in multi-unit secure compounds, replacing the stand-alone houses of the departing families," she said.
She added that when the embassy terminated a lease, it was done in accordance with all requirements of the lease signed by the owner of the property, as well as the Embassy.
Residential leases in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were terminated annually.