DA submits PAIA application to obtain proof on Zikalala’s claims of 200 construction mafia arrests

Issued by Sello Seitlholo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
10 Jul 2023 in News
  • The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala’s claim that over 200 arrests have been made in relation to the construction mafia seems far fetched.
  • The situation on the ground does not reflect or support his claims.
  • The DA has submitted a PAIA application to SAPS to give a breakdown of these 200 arrests.

The DA has today submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to SAPS requesting that they provide us with a breakdown of the specific construction projects that were targeted and the related category of crimes for which the 200 individuals, who are alleged to be part of the construction mafia, were arrested for. In addition, SAPS must provide clarity on the exact number of individuals – from the 200, who have either been granted bail, are still on trial or have been convicted.

On every occasion that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, has been asked on the action that the government has taken to address the growing threat of the construction mafia – he has made the claim that over 200 arrests have been made so far. Industry players are skeptical of this figure, largely because there has been no improvement on the ground and some projects have had to be suspended.

The skepticism is perfectly justified considering that, just last week, the KZN MEC for Public Works and Human Settlements, Sipho Nkosi, took the outrageous decision to meet and negotiate with construction mafia groups. At the time, the DA condemned MEC Nkosi’s decision and labelled it as an act that is akin to negotiating with terrorists.

The DA has since taken action and wrote to the national Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) – Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya, requesting that he uses his authority in terms of Section 17D of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 to officially designate the construction mafia and its related extortion activities as a national priority crime.

Despite the R68 billion cost that the construction mafia and their associated extortion activities have exerted on the economy, Zikalala has responded with half-baked measures that have had limited or no impact at all. He recently announced a National Forum to supposedly confront the threat posed by the construction mafia, but strangely excluded key stakeholders such as provincial and local government actors.

The DA maintains its position that a whole-of-society approach is critical to ensuring that South Africa’s construction industry is not held to ransom and run over by criminals who don’t care about service delivery and the stability of the national economy.

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