South Africa’s Minister of Public Works, Sihle Zikalala, has said that the construction sector is being held hostage by criminal gangs who are targeting building sites to extort funds estimated at billions of dollars.
Addressing the Big Five Africa Building Summit in Midrand on Tuesday, Mr. Zikalala said: “Construction mafias have long been a nightmare for companies who are prevented from completing their projects.
Mr. Zikalala added that according to available data, backlogs, and obstacles on construction sites due to mafias have cost the South African economy more than 3.6 billion dollars on 186 projects.
The Minister pointed out that the government was developing policies and legislation and the police were investigating hundreds of cases to combat criminal syndicates.
For his part, Alan Fuchs, spokesman for the Democratic Alliance (DA) party in Gauteng province, pointed out that the mafias use intimidation to extort a percentage of the contracts awarded to construction companies.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Black Business Council, Kganki Matabane, deplored the lack of political will to remedy this increasingly uncontrollable scourge.