Durban - THE revamping of several Chatsworth schools has ground to a halt following threats by a so-called construction mafia.
It is alleged that disputes between controversial Delangokubona Business Forum and Mvumisi Projects led to millions of rands of work being stopped at Parklands Primary School, Woodhurst Secondary School and Summerfield Primary School.
The renovations consisted of new roofs, gutters, windows and window panes, painting, new plumbing and electrical work.
Construction began in December and was due to be completed by June, but work came to a halt towards the end of January.
The schools have been left with incomplete work, building material and piles of rubble, classes with incomplete roofs, missing windows and gutters and no electrical connections in parts of the buildings.
Woodhurst Secondary School was forced to stop extramural activities as their sports field was covered in huge mounds of rubble and refuse.
Project manager Gordon Dennis of Mvumisi Projects said the disputes had been ongoing.
“We are unable to complete the jobs that we started because it is not safe for our guys to be on site.
“The forum members have manhandled, assaulted and intimidated our teams,” said Dennis.
He added that Delangokubona was on site within minutes of employers trying to start work.
One of Delangokubona’s leaders, Siphiwe Radebe, refuted claims that the forum had been anything other than civil and cordial.
“We rubbish these claims of intimidation, extortion and assault,” he said. Radebe said the root cause of the dispute was that Mvumisi Projects was not sharing the work.
“We all want a piece of the workload, but this contractor kept all of the work,” he said.
Radebe said as the forum was from Umlazi and the work sites fell under the Umlazi school district, they were entitled to a portion of the work.
He said they were in talks with Mvumisi to find an amicable solution and ways to share the workload. “We have been negotiating and attempting to gain sites for us to work on,” said Radebe.
A source close to the project, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear for their personal safety, said Delangokubona has made their life a living nightmare.
“We have been targeted.”
The source said that despite reports to authorities the situation remains unchanged.
“We are told that investigations are under way but we never hear, see or get told anything,” said the source.
Muzi Mahlambi, spokesperson for the provincial education department, said the department was aware that work had stopped at the schools.
“There are due processes and procedures which one must adhere to before they can be awarded or contracted for work.
“You can only work once you are awarded and formally recognised by the required authorities,” he said.
Mahlambi said that if a contractor was blocked, prevented or intimidated from doing their work then criminal procedures must follow and the perpetrators must answer for their actions.