Cape Town - A new and first-of-its-kind fibre installation project in Bishop Lavis is at risk of being halted after contractors received threats from extortionists in the area.
The community policing forum (CPF), which has condemned this criminality, said this would put 150 jobs in the area on the line and rob it of much-needed development, as the contractors had threatened to pull out.
CPF chairperson Graham Lindhorst said the project started on Monday, with the local labour, when the extortionists came to the contractor and demanded a protection fee.
“The fibre project contractor had a meeting on Tuesday afternoon with the alleged extorter, which was arranged in the parking area at the police station. According to the contractor, an agreement was about to be reached at the meeting after the contractor made it clear that they would not pay any money for protection.
“The extortionist then suggested that 30 of their people be employed to ensure the project happens without any problems, which the contractor also rejected,” he said.
However, Lindhorst said the extortionist plans were thwarted when the community heard about the meeting and interrupted it.
“The community is angry. However, we are glad that the veil on this criminality has been lifted as, in the past, people have only been talking but were not coming forward because their lives have been threatened. A meeting has been convened for Tuesday about these individuals that are keeping the community at ransom.
“We have a plan in place from the community, through the neighbourhood watch (NHW) and the CPF, to ensure that the project goes ahead and that its infrastructure is not vandalised when it has been completed,” Lindhorst said.
Police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said the Bishop Lavis police were aware of the matter. He said they met with the contractors, who declined to register official complaints.
“Due to the serious nature of the allegations and our strong approach to root out extortion in this province, an investigation has been initiated without the testimonies of the contractors. This investigation is still under way,” he said.
Traut said they encourage victims of extortion to report the matter to the police extortion hotline on 021 466 0011.