Extortion and murder hold back development in Delft

A housing project on Symphony Way and the rehabilitation of the road way were suspended by extortion and murder.

Cape Town has not been able to find contractors willing to risk involvement in its construction projects in Delft.

The Symphony Way housing project in Delft is one of the construction projects that has been put on hold by the City of Cape Town (CoCT). This comes after extortion threats and attempts resulted in the killing of Wendy Kloppers, an official of the city’s Environmental Affairs Department, in February this year. A security guard was also shot on the site of the road rehabilitation project in Delft Main Road.

“Our very biggest housing project, 3,000 units at Delft Symphony Way – there is no construction currently happening there. In fact, we have put out a contract for the repair and rehabilitation of Delft Main Road and we did not even get a contractor applying or bidding for the tender because they do not want to work in the Delft area,” said Geordin Hill-Lewis, mayor of Cape Town.

The housing project was set to benefit residents of informal settlements such as Freedom Farm and Blikkiesdorp.

“The project is currently suspended and the city is looking to resume work in 2024, if all goes to plan. The project steering committee, and specifically the beneficiary representatives, will be kept abreast and included in all discussions,” said Councillor Carl Pophaim, mayoral committee member for human settlements.

Previous contractors ended their contracts in these projects due to safety concerns. When it comes to the rehabilitation of Delft Main Road, Councillor Rob Quintas, the city’s mayoral committee member for urban mobility, said that a specific date cannot be given yet as to when this project will resume.

“The rehabilitation of Delft Main Road will remain part of the directorate’s planning for road rehabilitation going forward […] The contractor originally appointed will not be returning to the site,” said Quintas. The city is set to look for new contractors they can appoint to commence with the rehabilitation.

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“We are sending out the message: extortion attempts shut down service delivery; it steals services and infrastructure from the people who need it most,” said Hill-Lewis. The mayor mentioned at the Enough is Enough anti-extortion campaign launch, earlier this month, that they have increased their expenditure on security and on their rewards for anyone who comes forward with information.

“I live in the community so I am afraid to speak on things related to extortion. I also do not want anything that I say to potentially affect the cases, because this is something that is currently under investigation,” said an anonymous source.

Councilllors in areas such as Gugulethu, Philippi, Delft and Khayelitsha are said to be in danger as they are usually the first line of contact that extortionists make.

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