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SAPOA & BBCBE warn against ‘construction mafia’ in Johannesburg

The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and the Black Business Council in the Built Environment (BBCBE) are gravely concerned that construction projects worth billions of Rands are being violently disrupted and halted in South Africa and the harm this causes to investor confidence in our economy.

In June 2018, Moneyweb reported on ‘construction mafia’ operating in and around KwaZulu-Natal. These local gangs, who have organized themselves into so called business forums, pounce on construction sites and threaten to shut them down unless they are given 30% of the work.

Several sites have given into the demands of construction mafia at the risk of the project disruption, delay and increasing costs. Many firms were forced to enter negotiations and reach a settlement with the various business forums, while several approached the courts to interdict the business forum from intimidating or harassing construction workers.

The construction mafia have now settled in Johannesburg, operating in a similar manner.

Both organisations are appealing to their members not to succumb to the intimidation and violent tactics and to increase the presence of private security around construction sites.

SAPOA and BBCBE have been engaging with SAPS to join forces with the industry to ensure efforts are coordinated and the responses are measured to avoid endangering the lives of anyone on these sites and beyond.

There is a fundamental difference between genuine, hard-working entrepreneurs looking to be part of this supply chain and the construction mafia. People who invade sites illegally, armed to the teeth, threaten law abiding citizens with violence, intimidation and in some cases resulting in murder, are syndicates whose primary objective is to use violence to an end”.

The organisations have called for a collaborative and consultative approach to actively engage with stakeholders to mitigate possible disruptions and stoppages on construction sites as developers and contractors of all sizes are adversely affected by this criminal activity”.