The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has expressed gratitude to the South African Police Service for its swift response in arresting a group of armed men who were forcefully trying to take over the Durban High Court construction site.
At around 8 am on Tuesday, a heavily armed group of men, allegedly from a local development forum, forced access on to the site, stopped workers and chased away contractors appointed by the department in an attempt to gain control of the site.
Acting Director-General of the department, Imtiaz Fazel, issued an instruction for SAPS to be called for assistance and for charges to be laid.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the SAPS Tactical Team responded, arresting six people in the process.
The High Court redevelopment and renovation project by the DPWI started on 6 May and is expected to be completed in September 2025 at a cost of R850 million.
The project done for the Department of Justice, is for the redevelopment of the Durban High Court, including renovating the existing historic building, as well as the construction of two new buildings to accommodate additional courtrooms and High Court staff.
The project has required court staff to be relocated during construction. The temporary site of the Durban High Court is at the Durban Magistrates Court and the provision of alternative buildings was completed on 7 December 2021.
The DPWI expects the entire project to be completed in September 2025, but site invasions such as the one which occurred this week add delays and costs to the project, which is ultimately funded by the taxpayer.
Fazel has commended the SAPS for their swift and decisive action in arresting those responsible for invasion of the site.
“It is such disruptions that have led to delays in many projects, disrupting service delivery and holding the country to ransom. We would like to reiterate that as a department we will prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, anyone who seeks to illegally benefit from state infrastructure projects,” Fazel said.
Construction at the site is expected to resume on Monday.