Armed gangs are increasingly invading construction sites across the country, harassing workers and threatening violence unless their employment demands are met.
Databuild CEO Morag Evans believes that unless contractors take a firm stand against these so-called business forums, also known as the construction mafia, the scourge will only get worse.
The violence first reared its ugly head in KwaZulu-Natal but soon spread to Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and eventually other provinces.
The attacks stem from the promulgation in 2017 of new regulations to the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), which stipulate that 30 per cent of all contract value on state construction contracts must be allocated to certain designated groups, including black South Africans, women and people with disabilities.
Even though the regulations specifically refer to government contracts, private sector construction sites have also fallen prey to the violence.
The gangs demand either a 30% stake in the project or 30% of the total contract value in cash as “protection” against further violent disruptions and work stoppages. Recently, they have begun targeting shopping centres with demands to be employed as tellers or refuse collectors.
“Their actions amount to nothing more than extortion and giving in to these thugs only serves to encourage the abuse,” says Evans.
“The fact is,” she points out, “the perpetrators of these site disruptions have misunderstood the PPPFA regulations, which are geared to including designated groups in state contracts on a national level and do not necessarily refer to local communities.”
The damage inflicted by these gangs often means that projects are delayed for months, which causes costs to spiral, Evans continues. “Additionally, construction insurance policies do not always cover damage or loss in these circumstances. Consequently, many businesses, including black-owned small and medium enterprises, are facing financial ruin.”
Evans calls on law enforcement to be more proactive when it comes to the policing of construction sites to ensure the safety of workers and infrastructure and assist contractors in standing up to the gangs. “The police cannot work in isolation, however. Contractors have a responsibility to ensure that sites are properly demarcated with access-controlled entry and exit points. Effective safety and emergency measures, which include a communication plan, must be set up and additional security can also be employed, if necessary.
“Furthermore, politicians should refrain from creating unrealistic expectations for employment on construction projects. While the involvement of local contractors is essential, egotistical attempts to win popularity points merely fuel the disruptive attacks when false hopes cannot be met.
“There are also legal avenues to follow to mitigate the violence,” she adds. “Leading attorneys have won numerous court interdicts on behalf of construction companies against those inflicting the disruptions and claim significant success in radically minimising delays resulting from violence committed by business forum members.
“Harassment, violence and extortion are not the means to achieve transformation in the construction industry. Such actions are criminal in every sense of the word and cause more harm than good,” Evans concludes.
Source: A News
Image credit: AP
South African police on Monday arrested dozens of people following looting in Johannesburg and protests in the transport industry linked to a wave of anti-foreigner sentiment. At least 41 people were arrested after hundreds of people marched through Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD), plundering shops and torching cars and buildings, the police said in a statement.
Looting and violence spread across several neighborhoods in South Africa’s major cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg on Monday, after a spate of overnight attacks that appeared to target foreign-owned shops.
At least 50 shops were looted and burned early Monday in the southern Johannesburg suburbs of Malvern and Jeppestown. Police fired rubber bullets at looters as burnt cars were stranded in the roads as violence grew.
Officials dismissed reports that the ongoing attacks were xenophobic and that foreign-owned shops were targeted in the violence, insisting they were opportunistic crimes.
“Xenophobia is just an excuse that is being used by people to commit criminal acts,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told the media on Monday afternoon. “It is not xenophobia, but pure criminality.”
Cele said the government’s first priority was to deploy more police officers to the affected areas.
Police arrested 41 people for the violence in Johannesburg, while 8 others were arrested in Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, and one person arrested in the capitol Pretoria, police said.
On Monday, a pamphlet circulating on social media, seen by The Associated Press, encouraged South Africans to chase foreigners out of their communities.
The pamphlet, attributed to a group called the Sisonke People’s Forum, accused foreigners living in South Africa of selling drugs and stealing jobs, both common refrains during the regular flare-ups of violence against foreigners in the greater Johannesburg area in recent years.
Monday’s violence follows similar incidents in Pretoria last week, in which protest led by taxi drivers saw several foreign-owned shops looted and torched.
By Andile Sicetsha for The South African
The nation is abuzz on Tuesday after the South African Police Service announced, on Twitter, that it would be publishing the country’s crime stats for the period of 2017/2018.
This year has already seen a marked increased in violent crimes like cash-in-transit heists and child murders and abductions.
Police Minister, Bheki Cele, addressed the media at the Imbizo Room in Parliament, Cape Town, and as much as there is quite enough to be worried about, the stats also saw a decrease in marked areas of concern.
Crimes that have increased
South Africa has seen a 1 320 increase in murders, from 19 016 in 2016/2017 to 20 336 in 2017/2018. An average of 57 people are killed a day in the country, 46 of which are men, eight women and two children. This shows an increase from the average of 52 murder deaths a day in 206/2017.
The murder rate is up by 6.9% in 2017/2018.
Attempted murder also saw a slight 0.2% increase from 18 205 in 2016/2017 to 18 205 in 2017/2018.
Cash-in-transit heists are up to 238 in 2017/2018, from 152 last year and 137 in 2015.
Western Cape still sits highest on the list of crimes reported at police stations. Nyanga remains the most notorious area in the country, infamous for its gang violence, while Gauteng has seen a marked increase in taxi violence.
The murders of women and children have also seen a notable increase, up by 146 reported cases.
291 more women have been murdered in this period, 291 more than last year, with 117 boys and 29 girls.
Crimes committed on farms have been released but there is no indication whether or not this shows an increase or a decrease.
62 farm murders have been reported for this year; 33 house robberies, six attempted murders, two reported rape cases, two cases of stock theft, two robberies with a firearm, one carjacking incident and one reported kidnapping.
Crimes that have decreased
Robbery with aggravating circumstances dropped by 1.8% to 138 364 this year from 140 956 in 2016/2017.
Common robbery also saw a notable decrease of 5% from 53 418 in 2016/2017 to 50 730 in 2017/2018.
Assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm went down by 1.9%, from 170 616 in 2016/2017 to 167 352 in 2017/2018.
Common assault cases also dropped by 0.1% in 2017/2018 to 156 243, from 156 450.
The most notable crime numbers
The most notable changes that we have seen so far are the marked increases in crimes related to cash-in-transit heists, murders, The Western Cape’s persisting problem with gang violence, the increase in crimes against women and children, and of course, farm murders.
It was revealed that CIT heists are up by 0.7% this year. Meaning that 76 more incidents have occurred this year alone. Cele has made this one of his primary concerns this year.
Although very recently, the SAPS appeared to be winning the battle against CIT syndicates, the numbers are not looking good.
Western Cape’s ongoing battle with gang violence
In the murder category, Nyanga police station came up on top of the list where most murder cases were reported in 2017/2018.
Compared to the period of April 2016 and March 2017, where 281 cases were reported, the period of 2017/2018 saw an increase of 9.6%.
27 more murder cases were reported at this station and most of them have been attributed to the growing problem of gang violence in the province.
Crimes against women and children
This stat will probably affect South Africans the most. As much as many organisations tried to bring this problem to the forefront with protests and ongoing discussions of violence against women and children in the public forum, the numbers were up by 146 reported cases in 2017/2018.
Much of the controversy that surrounds this stat is based on the reported number of farm killings that have been perpetuated by organisations like AfriForum.
According to the crime stats, 62 reported farm killings have occurred in 2017/2018.
Incidents of civil unrest have been on the rise in South Africa over the past year. Violent protests have been reported across the country; from the unrest in Hammanskraal in Pretoria on June 201, to the protests leading to the closing of the N2 near Cape Town International Airport on June 292.
An element that these incidents have in common is that they are all politically driven by members of the public, who wish to express their dissatisfaction with the various government departments ahead of the 2016 Municipal Elections taking place on 3 August 2016.
Another common aspect of these protests is that they involve theft and damage to property. Shop owners suffered losses due to looting and motorists incurred damages to their vehicles during the unrest in Hammanskraal, and a bus was burnt and motorists robbed during the protest action on the N2 in Cape Town.
The question is: who is liable for the damages resulting from political unrest?
“The South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA) is the only South African insurer that covers you for loss or damage to insured property as a direct result of civil unrest, including rioting, strike action and public disorder,”says Derek Wilson, Head of leading financial and insurance online comparison website, Hippo.co.za. “Fortunately for those who have insurance, this cover can be included in their existing insurance policy.”
SASRIA honoured 140 claims totaling R92-million in damages during the #FeesMustFall protests earlier this year, and have reported an average increase of 56% in both the frequency and severity of claims submitted as a result of protest action in the last four years3.
“Leading up to the elections in August, we are very likely see more and more incidents of protest action, and we encourage South Africans to ensure that they have the necessary cover in case of any damages to their business or personal property,” concludes Wilson. “Hippo.co.za provides a free-to-use service to compare financial products such as Car Insurance, Household Insurance, Life Insurance, Funeral Cover, Motor Warranties and more. Millions of South Africans use the Hippo Web site each year to compare whether they are getting the best deal.”