A construction worker was knocked over by a vehicle while working near Shaka's Rock on Saturday.
Cape Town - Criminal elements disguised as community development forums are blackmailing, intimidating and extorting money from construction companies building houses and infrastructure in townships. These tactics have led to month-long delays in the completion of projects.

Similar rackets in Pretoria are referred to as “construction mafias” and have affected projects in Arcadia, Menlo Park and Brooklyn.

“It’s a trend which started in Pretoria and now it’s slowly making its way to Cape Town and we have every reason to be concerned about this,” said Garden Cities chief executive, John Matthews. Matthews said their housing developments had been similarly affected in Cape Town.

“The challenge comes from the community and it spills over to the developers, and it has a massive effect on the service delivery,” he said.

Matthews is currently developing 1 700 low-income houses in Greenville in Durbanville. The longest period the project was stalled was four months.

“The community often does not understand why we are there so they vent their frustration in a certain manner,” Matthews said. He said a stalled project could lead to losses of millions of rand.

READ: SA’s ‘construction mafia’ is spreading to Pretoria

“Anything that slows down costs money. It costs around R1 million a day if you lose out. It’s a Catch-22: you spend time dealing with labour issues and it’s frustrating because other projects are neglected and the community does not allow work to continue,” he said.

The Stock Road infrastructure project in Philippi, which is part of the roll-out of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi bus service to the Cape Flats, came to a standstill three weeks ago.

The contractor has not been permitted to return to the site to complete the last bit of work, and the company has been pressured to agree to the so-called development forum’s demands for a “legacy”.

Cape Argus