Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis launches campaign against construction mafia

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  • Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has launched a new city-wide Anti-Extortion Campaign under the slogan Enough is Enough! Genoeg is Genoeg! Kwanele!

The construction extortion racket was highlighted by a report authored by Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane for the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime entitled ‘Extortion or Transformation? The construction mafia in South Africa’.The report, released last year, reveals how the construction mafia operate, their involvement in systemic extortion, and the long-term implications for the construction industry in South Africa.

The construction mafia emerged in Cape Town since the start of the year. They are targeting construction projects awarded by the City Council plus others. The organise crime syndicates are deadly. A city official, Wendy Kloppers, was shot and killed in February this year at a housing site in Delft. The City has put up a R1 million reward for information that would lead to the prosecution of the gunmen. Read more

As part of the campaign, the City has set up a 24-hour hotline (0800 00 6992) and rewards system to encourage residents to help the City and the authorities to tackle extortion, with billboards set to be rolled out along major routes showing how to report. Reporting can be anonymous.

‘Demands for “protection fees” from local extortionists are impeding both basic service delivery and major infrastructure projects. We are determined to prevent disruptions to services by partnering with communities as our eyes and ears to root out local extortionists, and paying out cash rewards for valuable tip-offs leading to arrest and prosecution.

‘With a record R11bn infrastructure budget in 23/24 – 73% of which will directly benefit lower income households – we have staff and contractors working on the ground more than ever, especially in vulnerable communities impacted by crime. We cannot afford project delays due to criminal activity. That’s why the aim of the Enough campaign is to increase public reporting of extortion activity, with specialised City investigators feeding this information into the South African Police Service (SAPS) anti-extortion unit.

‘Law enforcement is also regularly escorting City teams and contractors on request in hotspot areas, and additional project security requirements have been built into project contracts. Our staff and contractors are under instruction to make sure that any extortion attempts are reported to authorities every single time, so that we build a case record and pushback against the criminals harming the interests of communities. Extortion is large-scale organised crime run by well-oiled and very lucrative syndicates. The only way to stand up for ourselves is to stand together against these criminals,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The campaign launch was held at the construction of new MyCiTi depots in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, a massive project at the heart of operations for the second phase of the MyCiTi bus service. Interference with multiple contractors and extortion attempts since May have set the project back by several weeks, as part of a broader R60 million in transport project work impacted by extortion delays.

A total of R110 million human settlements project work has also been impacted in 23/24.

Various City projects currently impacted by extortion as at October 2023 include:

  • ACSA Housing Construction (Delft) – Work currently disrupted, with reported cases of attempted murder, murder, and arson
  • Delft select roadworks – Work currently disrupted, with a reported case of murder
  • MyCiti construction site (Spine Road) – Work going ahead after extortion-related delays
  • Beacon Valley housing – Work disrupted, with reported cases of intimidation and arson
  • Lentegeur Pedestrian bridge – Work proceeding following reported cases of theft and intimidation
  • Eastridge high-voltage cable relocation – Work proceeding after disruptions
  • Bishop Lavis roadworks – Work disrupted with reported cases of intimidation
  • Edward Street works (Ottery) – Work proceeding after disruptions

Anonymous tip-offs are encouraged: Phone 24/7: 0800 00 6992



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