Mayor calls for clampdown on extortionists blocking housing projects

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has called for law enforcement agencies to clamp down on extortionists blocking City housing construction projects. In a briefing to Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Settlements on Friday, 27 January 2023, the City reported that 12 of its housing projects are currently impacted by threats of extortion, unlawful occupation or forceful community disruption of housing units, with around 4 500 State-subsidised housing beneficiaries affected.

‘We are calling on the South African Police Services, contractors, the NPA, and the general public to help us ensure there are consequences for extortionists disrupting progress at City housing projects. Together we can clamp down on this practice by ensuring criminal charges are laid each time, that evidence is carefully gathered, and those responsible are brought to book. Yesterday, 26 January 2023, the City approved a R15 million top up budget for additional security for housing construction sites.

‘Where completed units are invaded, the City will not hesitate to initiate eviction proceedings to reverse this injustice and theft from the rightful beneficiaries,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Threats to contractors and staff have impacted housing projects around the City, including Delft Eindhoven, Valhalla Park, Gugulethu, Bardale 4C in Mfuleni, Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, Sheffield Road in Philippi, and Beacon Valley in Mitchells Plain.

Extortion threats take various forms. Local ‘business forums’ were behind these threats in the case of the Philippi and Mfuleni projects. In other instances, attempts by local subcontractors to muscle in on project work were behind disruptions.

Intimidation tactics have become extremely violent in some cases, with four construction staff members shot and incidents of petrol bombing leading to the cancellation of two civil contracts worth R140 million at the City’s Beacon Valley project.

The community threats pertaining to ongoing work or housing units, and invasion attempts have been the main disruption in the case of the following projects: Morningstar; Rusthof in Strand; Belhar-Pentech and Mau Mau in Nyanga.

In Manenberg, gang violence has been the main obstacle for the PHP project in the area.

‘The City is exploring several ways to enhance on-site security at construction projects, including approaching the courts for interdicts, more stringent security specifications for construction contracts, and the use of municipal law enforcement resources in addition to private security. In the past financial year, the City spent more than 97% of its funding for human settlements. Criminality and gangsterism are among the biggest impediments to complete spends, as we can see with the impact of cancellation of contracts already. Some R2,8 billion in total has been allocated for human settlements over the next three years and we will continue to do all in our power to safeguard the projects and protect our rightful beneficiaries,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Malusi Booi.

Anonymous tip offs are welcome:

Residents can give anonymous tip offs if they are aware of illegal activity that is taking place; that has happened or is still to happen. Please call 112 from a cellphone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.

Source: City Of Cape Town

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