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Cape Town residents fight back against road construction mafia

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says that residents are rallying behind the city in response to the ongoing criminal activities threatening its road infrastructure projects.

The mayor made this announcement while visiting a site along a MyCiti bus route being constructed in Philippi, which was the scene of one of the most recent attacks involving these criminal organizations, which the public has dubbed the “construction mafia.”

Capetonians are fed up

Since June 2023, there have been a growing number of reports of Cape Town public development projects being hampered by mafia-style criminal groups attempting to extort a significant portion of the project’s funding for “protection services.”

These cases have resulted in several road expansions and other public works being delayed due to threats, acts of violence and intimidation, and even outright murder.

Most of the projects are intended to provide public transport, such as the MyCiti bus service, to vulnerable communities living in areas like Claremont, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Phillipi, and Wynberg, and the residents in these areas are now voicing their anger at the criminals that are effectively holding their neighborhoods hostage.

In late February, a security guard was shot while patrolling an area in Philippi where a MyCiti terminal was being rolled out and was subsequently taken to hospital while the police opened an attempted murder case.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis recently visited the site of the attack, where he announced that the city has managed to get residents on its side to expose the criminals involved in the rackets delaying its road projects.

The mayoral committee has said that it will not play into the hands of construction mafia syndicates and ignore its responsibility to deliver services to the people, according to EWN.

“In Philippi, the public is helping us with those disruptions as they desperately want these routes to go ahead,” said Hill-Lewis.

“The businesses in Philippi say they will even sponsor additional security that they pay for to make sure this project goes ahead because they can see how much it’s going to benefit the society. That’s very encouraging.”

On a more positive note, the mayor declared that the south-east MyCiti route should be completed by the end of next year, provided there are no further disruptions

Cape Town’s war on the mafia

The City of Cape Town has set aside hundreds of millions of rands to improve its roads and public transport services, which has made it a target for these extortion tactics.

This month, it was revealed that an expansion to A Z Berman Drive in Mitchell’s Plain, estimated at R400 million, was delayed as contractors were forced off the site by criminals threatening to destroy their machinery.

In response to these incidences, the city set up a 24-hour anonymous hotline (080 000 6992) in October 2023 and created a war room that coordinates all its contractors and departments to ensure the safety of its service members.

It has also adopted a confidentiality policy where it will no longer publicly declare the value of new projects, as these sums make it more enticing for extortionists who have demanded as much as R27.4 million in the past.

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