'Ringleader' could be jailed for disrupting work on Durban pipeline

2018-05-23 17:37

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A man accused of being the ringleader of a group who disrupted work several times on a massive water pipeline project in Durban since last year, will have to present himself to court to explain why he should not be jailed for six months.

Siphiwe Ngcobo, who lives in Newlands West, is facing a charge of contempt of court after the contractor, Icon Construction, secured an interim and final interdict against the group which has stormed the Newland's West site - the fifth phase of the Northern Aqueduct Augmentation Project - on several occasions and forced its closure.

The contractor says, since the granting of the interdict, others have used balaclavas and hats to hide their faces to avoid being seen on cameras installed on the site.

But Ngcobo's uncovered face has been caught on camera.

In the past year, several construction sites have been disrupted and shut down by members of the Delangokubona Business Forum, which has demanded that its members be employed given a cut of the profits.

Several court interdicts have been granted against the forum and local politicians have condemned their actions.

However, Ngcobo claims to represent the "Ward 27 Business Forum", which is not a registered entity and which has no known address.

In an affidavit before Judge Esther Steyn in the Durban High Court this week, contracts manager Barry Elsmore-Cary said the interim interdict to stop further disruptions on the site was granted in December last year.

Prior to it being finalised at the end of January, Ngcobo had come to the site to demand work.

"The interim interdict was explained to him and the fact that he could be arrested for being on site. He replied that he was aware of it, but we would lock him up at our peril."

In March, members of staff on site were threatened by members of the business forum. Later that month, they again disrupted the site. On that occasion the final interdict was served on those present, including Ngcobo.

However, in early May, Ngcobo and others again arrived on site, forcing their way through security and physically assaulting guards. They demanded to be involved in the contract.

The following day they came back making the same demands and effectively shutting down the site for the day.

Again, the next day, they came back but the SAPS prevented them from accessing the site.

"I was advised that the officials from the (eThekwini Municipality) were threatened that, if work did not stop, they would escalate the disruptions and people on site would be injured or worse," Elsmore-Carey said.

"Because of that, the municipality issued a notice to us to suspend work until the issues were resolved.

"Our staff had to be escorted off site by the police and vehicles were stoned by the group which had gathered at the gate."

He said Ngcobo had clearly shown that he had no regard for court orders.

"The time has come for severe steps to be taken against him," he said. 

Steyn granted an interim order declaring him to be in contempt of court and giving him until July to say why he should not be jailed.

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