Sihle Zikalala lied about the 200 construction mafia arrests

Issued by Sello Seitlholo MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure
01 Oct 2023 in News

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

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, lied when he made false and misleading claims that over 200 individuals – who were alleged to be part of the construction mafia, have been arrested to date. The South Africa Police Service (SAPS) has failed to corroborate his claims, leaving the DA with no option but to conclude that there are no records of arrests to confirm the 200 arrests.

Zikalala must be held accountable for deliberately going out of his way to mislead the nation through false information. The DA will use the next available opportunity when Zikalala is due to appear before the portfolio committee of Public Works and Infrastructure, to demand that he own up to his lies and publicly apologizes for deliberately misinforming the country.

If Zikalala refuses to acknowledge his false crime statistics, the DA will refer the case to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interest and request that they investigate the potential violation of the Executive Members Ethics Act and Code of Conduct by the Minister.

On every occasion that Zikalala has been asked about the interventions that the government is making to address the growing threat of the construction mafia – he has repeatedly made the claim that over 200 arrests have been made so far. Industry players were justifiably skeptical of this figure, largely because there has been no improvement on the ground and some projects have had to be suspended.

It is for this reason that on 10 July 2023, the DA submitted a 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 were alleged to be part of the construction mafia, were arrested for. In addition, SAPS had to 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.

Not only did SAPS fail to provide records on proofs of arrest to substantiate the 200 arrests claim, they wrote to the DA to ask for an extra 30 days to look for the information. As the 30 days has lapsed with no further communication from SAPS, it is clear that records of the 200 arrests are non-existent. It is evident that Zikalala resorted to lies to mislead the public and create the impression that he was doing something to stop the construction mafia scourge that is stalling infrastructure development in South Africa.

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