The Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum (IBACF) has expressed satisfaction with the substantial strides made by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to dismantle construction mafias. Formed in 2020, the IBACF focuses on overseeing infrastructure projects and implementing mechanisms to identify and prevent corruption, bringing together stakeholders from civil society, the built environment, and various government branches, including the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago reported that a multitude of arrests have been executed in connection with illicit activities within the construction sector. Ongoing investigations by law enforcement agencies have resulted in various forms of consequence management, including asset recovery, disciplinary actions, and criminal prosecutions. Kganyago commended the SAPS for their accomplishments, revealing that 712 cases referred for investigation have led to 722 arrests and 52 convictions to date. During a recent IBACF meeting, the National Priority Committee on Extortion and Violence at Economic Sites conveyed that the battle against fraud, corruption, and maladministration in the construction sector is making significant headway. Noteworthy among recent apprehensions was that of alleged 28s gang leader Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson. Their arrests followed reported acts of intimidation and violence, forcing several Cape Town construction contractors to abandon government housing projects. Subsequently, Johnson’s company, Glomix House Brokers, secured contracts from the Western Cape government’s Human Settlements Department to complete these abandoned projects.
Kganyago elucidated that the term “construction mafia” refers to groups of extortionists attempting to extract protection fees or extort a portion of infrastructure project costs from local construction companies and contractors. Some individuals affiliated with the mafia are recruited to work on construction sites. Recognizing the construction sector’s pivotal role in job creation and economic growth, Kganyago emphasized the detrimental impact of the construction mafia on projects and investments, revealing that up to R63 billion worth of projects were delayed or canceled due to extortion tactics and disruptions.Encouraging community involvement, the SIU urged residents to report any illegal activities on construction sites. The IBACF advocates proactive community engagement to inform residents of ongoing projects, legitimate subcontracting opportunities, and work prospects. South Africans are encouraged to report criminal actions such as threats, violence, or extortion that could jeopardize projects and employment opportunities. Reporting avenues include any SAPS station, the toll-free National Anti-Corruption Hotline (0800 701 701), the Presidential Hotline (17737 or email@example.com), and the SIU Hotline (0800 037 774). Kganyago issued a warning that those engaging in illegal activities within the construction sector will face consequences, expressing gratitude to whistleblowers and law enforcement agencies for their courage and efforts in addressing these criminal matters.