Don’t negotiate with criminals: DA calls for designation of construction mafia activities as a national priority crime

Issued by Sello Seitlholo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
06 Jul 2023 in News
  • DA calls for designation of construction mafia activities as national priority crime.
  • The ANC’s decision to negotiate with the criminal syndicate is akin to negotiating with terrorists and sets a dangerous precedent. 
  • Extortion activities of construction mafia pose a direct threat to the industry and the economy. 

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Sello Seitlholo MP

The DA has written 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.

After hollowing out state institutions and giving organised crime syndicates the license to do as they please, the ANC has taken a cowardly decision to negotiate with the criminal syndicates behind the construction mafia. In an unprecedented move that is akin to negotiating with terrorists, the ANC KwaZulu Natal MEC for Public Works and Human Settlements, Sipho Nkosi, indicated that he was willing to meet with leaders of the construction mafia groups in the Province before law enforcement agencies get involved.

Nkosi’s ridiculous plan, if allowed to go ahead, will set a dangerous precedent where criminal organisations will engage in unlawful activities in order to force government to the negotiating table. Nkosi is essentially trying to shield the construction mafia groups from criminal liability by stepping into the purview of law enforcement organisations.

The extortion activities of the criminal mafia are now a direct threat to the national interest as the multi-billion construction industry has practically been held to ransom by marauding gangs demand a 30% cut on contracts. As the practice is now prevalent across the country, Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya should use his authority to designate the construction mafia and their extortionate modus operandi as a national priority crime.

Section 17D(1)(a) of the Act provides that the Hawks should act to prevent, combat and investigate “national priority offences, which in the opinion of the Head of the Directorate need to be addressed by the Directorate”. The Act defines a national priority crime as organised crime, crime that requires national prevention or investigation, or crimes that requires specialised skills in the prevention or investigation thereof. The construction mafia and their activities fall squarely into this category.

Put differently, Nkosi outrageous suggestion is hardly surprising when viewed within the context of the report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime which found that “the activities of the so-called construction mafia have been fueled by the weak response from the state, allowing them to expand their activities.” The report further found “clear links that exist between some of the business forum groups and certain political players, with business forums being accused of acting as surrogates for certain politicians.”

Despite the high crime rate made possible by a complicit ANC government, turning the country into a full-blown mafia state should be rejected by all South Africans. The groups that are behind the construction mafia must know that their activities are illegal and they should face criminal liability for their actions.

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