Five public infrastructure projects have stalled due to interference by construction mafia syndicates since 2019 for periods ranging from a few days to four months at a time, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala said.
“There have been a total of five public infrastructure projects that have been halted due to interference by the construction mafia since 2019, one in Gauteng and four in KwaZulu-Natal,” Zikalala said.
He was responding to questions from DA MP Sello Seitlholo about the total number of public infrastructure projects across the country that have been suspended and stopped due to interference by construction mafia in the last five years, as well as the total cumulative costs of the disruptions to the economy.
Independent Media reported in June that Zikalala said there had been more than 200 arrests in connection with construction mafia syndicates countrywide.
It was reported at the time that some government projects in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces had been disrupted, with others halted because of a group of armed men, known as amaDelangokubona.
The construction mafia would demand a stake in the construction tenders.
Zikalala was quoted as saying 682 cases, which include 132 extortion and 550 extortion-related cases, were probed by the SAPS and the disruption and blockages of construction sites cost the economy more than R68 billion in 186 projects.
In his written response, Zikalala said repairs and maintenance of the roof and stabilising of the foundation at the Salvokop radio tech unit official quarters in Pretoria was one of the affected projects.
“(A) business forum from the community of Salvokop disrupted the project and the project experienced some delays; extension of time was granted to the contractor without additional cost.”
He also said the Durban High Court refurbishment and renovation was forcefully stopped by external forces at gunpoint, and the contractor’s security and staff were removed from site and replaced by unknown security personnel.
“The total standing time claimed by the contractor was for the amount of R904 682, excluding VAT, for expense and loss for four days.
(However), the department and a ward councillor assisted in resolving all of the issues relating to the stoppage.
“The contractor brought in additional armed security and there is no longer a threat from external elements and on site,” he said.
Zikalala added that another project that stalled was repairs and renovations to an uMlazi complex. “The owner of the contractor managed to intervene. No cost implications.”
In Port Shepstone, the construction of the new building at the magistrate’s office was delayed for three days, and there were no cost implications.
Zikalala added that the repairs and renovations to the Department of Labour in Durban were also stopped for four months.
The project incurred an estimated R120 000 in costs due to the stoppage.
In October, President Cyril Ramaphosa said 20 economic infrastructure task teams were established across the country to combat the construction mafia.
Ramaphosa said R20 million was ring-fenced and allocated for the task teams’ operational needs in 2022-23 and R17m in this financial year.