KZN MEC condemns violent mafia-style tactics of 'business forums'

2017-09-08 17:34
Sihle Zikakalala. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld)

Sihle Zikakalala. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld)

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala says he is involved in ongoing talks with "business forums" to find lasting solutions to the issues they raise about economic opportunities.

However, he said, disruptions to service delivery projects, which had the potential to discourage investment in the province, would not be tolerated and he condemned any form of intimidation.

Zikalala was reacting to news that yet another construction company had turned to the High Court seeking an interdict against the Delangokubona Business Forum.

As previously reported by News24, the forum - and others linked to it - have literally dozens of interdicts against them as they target construction sites around the province, demanding jobs and, in some cases, a financial slice of the contracts and using violence and intimidation to shut them down.

In Friday’s urgent application brought by Advocate Vishalan Naidu - before Durban High Court Judge Dhaya Pillay - Craiglen Naidoo, of 328 on Sydney CC said his firm was presently involved in several projects.

One, in Umhlanga’s CBD, had to be completed by February 2018 in terms of a lease agreement with the anchor tenant, KPMG.

'Modus operandi is to disrupt sites, threaten contractors'

Another was at Shakaskraal on the north coast and the others were industrial warehouse projects in Durban’s Sydney Road area which were scheduled for completion between February and June next year, and were already experiencing high demand from potential tenants.

"Over the past year, there have been a spate of incidents of intimidation and violence, as well as mafia-style tactics against contractors on various sites," Naidoo said. "We are their latest victim."

"They have developed a notoriously bad image in the construction industry because their modus operandi is to disrupt sites, threaten contractors, and demand that they be given work and be paid exorbitant rates. They use weapons to achieve this end."

Naidoo said the forum members had told him that, "in terms of provincial treasury workshop", he was obliged to give them 30% of the contract value and to employ their labour force.

This month, pouring of concrete on the Shakaskraal site was stopped because of threats of physical violence by men armed with guns, pangas and bush knives.

Interdict granted

"As a result, all the concrete waiting to be poured had to be dumped. This was a loss of R153 000 for the concrete and R409 000 in labour costs.

"The concrete which was poured is no longer structurally sound and has to be removed."

Naidoo said he feared that the other sites would also be targeted.

"We want to resume operations at Shakaskraal on Monday. The police have assured us they will assist us if we get a court order," he said.

He said the conduct of the forum’s members, especially its chairperson Nathi Mnyandu - "who is fond of posting pictures of himself on the forum’s Facebook page as an infamous glory hunter" - was unbecoming and contemptuous, and that the court should grant a punitive costs order against them.

Judge Pillay granted the interdict, giving the forum until October 6 to show cause why the order should not be made final.

Read more on:    sihle zikalala  |  durban

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