Anti-corruption forum welcomes SAPS progress against construction mafia

7672

The Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum (IBACF) has welcomed the progress made by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies on the progress made to crackdown on the construction mafia.

The IBACF was formed in 2020 and is aimed at monitoring infrastructure projects and putting systems in place to detect and prevent corruption.

The forum comprises civil society, representatives from the built environment and various arms of government, including the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said hundreds of arrests have been made relating to illegal practices in construction.

“There are ongoing investigations in the sector by various law enforcement agencies that have led to consequence management such as asset recovery, disciplinary action, and criminal prosecution.

“It is against this background that the IBACF welcomes and congratulates the SAPS on their progress in addressing the construction sector mafia in South Africa. The SAPS has confirmed that the 712 cases referred for investigation have resulted in 722 arrests and 52 convictions so far,” Kganyago said.

According to Kganyago, at a recent meeting of the IBACF, the National Priority Committee on Extortion and Violence at Economic Sites reported that “the fight against fraud, corruption, and maladministration in the construction sector is gaining significant ground”.

“A notable recent arrest has been that of alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson. Several Cape Town construction contractors had to abandon government housing construction sites following alleged acts of intimidation and violence.

“Thereafter, the Western Cape government’s Human Settlements Department awarded Johnson’s company, Glomix House Brokers, the contracts for completing these abandoned projects,” the SIU said.

Kganyago explained that the construction mafia refers to groups of extortionists who attempt to forcefully extract protection fees from local construction companies and contractors or extort a portion of the cost of an infrastructure project, including specific individuals affiliated with the mafia being recruited to work on the site.

“The construction sector is one of the most important job-creating sectors in the country. Investment in the sector not only benefits the country through improved infrastructure but creates hundreds of thousands of jobs on construction sites and throughout the construction sector value chain.

“Research documents published during the last two years have revealed the impact of construction sector mafia on construction projects and investment in the sector. In the period leading up to 2022, up to R63 billion worth of projects were reported, and delayed or cancelled as a result of the extortion tactics and disruptions posed by construction mafia,” Kganyago said.