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2023-03-03 at 19:00 #395860Nat QuinnKeymaster
A series of attacks on housing project sites has prompted the City of Cape Town to try a different approach, which means roping in the police to tackle the scourge and protect residents.
The City of Cape Town wants police intelligence units to investigate extortion bedevilling its housing projects.
This is according to Malusi Booi, the mayoral committee member for housing and human settlements, who also announced on Thursday that the city had increased its reward to R1-million for information leading to the arrest of the gunmen who killed City official Wendy Kloppers in Delft on 16 February.
Kloppers was shot at the Symphony Way Housing Project construction site earmarked for 3,300 of the city’s most vulnerable residents. According to Booi there is footage of the vehicle the killers were in.
The City increased the reward from R100,000 thanks to a donation from a businessman who wishes to remain anonymous.
The reward, Booi said, also applies to the arrest and prosecution of any person who has destabilised the City’s projects.
The Symphony Way site had been the scene of a shooting in which two construction workers were wounded, as well as a petrol-bombing. Because of these alleged construction “mafia” attacks, a new approach is required to stop them, Booi said.
Construction at the site has been halted after contractors and workers described living in fear and some said they cannot go back.
Booi said: “We have asked SAPS to come aboard because their intelligence units can assist us to get to the bottom of this… so that it doesn’t spread throughout the city.
“We require highly skilled individuals to interact with the community in order to ensure the safety of those individuals… Because there is so much tension in that area, highly skilled individuals are required, and we have delegated that process to SAPS and law enforcement agencies.”
Construction at the Beacon Valley housing project in Mitchells Plain has also been affected: two civil contracts worth R14o-million were cancelled in 2021 following a petrol-bombing, shootings and intimidation. Four workers were injured. More than 1,800 people are still waiting for housing in Beacon Valley.
“We want to make sure we have security personnel that are fully armed in that particular area (Beacon Valley). The measures we put in place will remain confidential… But… we are doing our level best,” he said.
The City was hoping to have a contractor at Beacon Valley before June. The contract had been readvertised.
On Wednesday, Booi attended a sod-turning ceremony at the Atlantis Kanonkop project, which will provide housing for more than 4,980 people once all phases have been completed.
Wessie van der Westhuizen, manager of Atlantis’ subcouncil 1, told Daily Maverick that this project is already in jeopardy and threats have allegedly been received.
To prevent these threats being realised and delaying the project, the City has urged contractors to report any intimidation.
Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told the Western Cape Standing Committee on Human Settlements on 27 January that the City had approved an R15-million top-up budget for additional security at housing construction sites to combat threats and extortion.
Police have said they are investigating the two recent incidents and the murder of Kloppers and that no arrests have been made.
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