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From AK-47s to business forums: This is how SA's 'construction mafia' is winning

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The "construction mafia" which has terrorised building sites across the country, backing their demand for 30% of contract values with AK-47 firepower, is slowly moving towards respectability as the industry embraces business forums in local sub-contracting. 

The construction mafia, which grew out of two militant groupings in KwaZulu-Natal around 2014 and subsequently spread to all nine provinces, has followed a typical modus operandi: armed men arrive on site, purporting to represent local business, and demand 30% of the contract value, sometimes simply as protection money, other times through a demand for sub-contracts.

Roy Mnisi, executive director of industry association Master Builders, says: "The demand by certain groupings commonly known as business forums came about a few years ago and took different forms, but the common denominator was that they used violent tactics to achieve their goals."

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