MEC Tertius Simmers said extortion rackets intimidated and attacked contractors at some of its sites.

CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements has said some of its housing projects are hampered by gangs.

MEC Tertius Simmers said the extortion rackets intimidated and attacked contractors at some of his worksites.

He said gangs charge worker protection fees to prevent other gangs from hurting them or robbing them while on duty.

This led to workers being too afraid to return to work, which hampered productivity.

“We have seen forms of extortion networks preventing some sites from moving to the next phase. One of them is in Gugulethu, which I visited two months ago, which is already more than 100 days where the contract employee was shot more than once. It happened in this fiscal year,” Simmers said.

Simmers also said they had to step up security at these sites, and it was costing the department millions of rands.

“We are also seeing attempts on other sites from these extortion networks under the auspices of development forums, what they call themselves. Last year we had to go to the High Court to get a ban in order to prevent extortion networks under the auspices of the Development Forum from further delays and to enhance security,” Simmers said.