Violence halts the construction of houses

Lentegeur police is calling on the community for information about the fourth attempted murder of a man at one of three Beacon Valley housing construction sites.

The R95 million Beacon Valley Housing Project, which will provide affordable housing opportunities to 1 809 qualifying beneficiaries, has been plagued by violence and intimidation with construction being stopped several times since July last year.

The man, 59, was shot in his upper chest at a construction site in Tania Crescent, Montrose Park, at about 1pm on Wednesday July 7.

Lentegeur police station spokeswoman Constable Felicia Adams said no arrests had been made and that the motive for the shooting is unknown.

Anyone with information can call Detective Sergeant Rudi Theunissen on 021 377 5000.

Paramedic arrives at a construction site after a worker was shot.

Shawn Herbst, Netcare 911 spokesman, said the man was shot while on his lunch break, sitting in a cab of earth moving equipment, when the incident occurred.

“He was shot by a low calibre weapon,” he said.

Mr Herbst said the man had to be airlifted to hospital because of the nature of his injuries.

A construction worker was airlifted after being shot in the chest at one of three Beacon Valley housing construction sites

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the operator is in hospital and is due to undergo more surgeries.

This was the fourth man to be shot in a series of incidents with construction being stopped.

Last July a petrol bomb was thrown just after midnight at the Swartklip Road construction site – one of three sites that make up the Beacon Valley Housing Project (“Housing project site petrol-bombed”, Plainsman August 5, 2020).

This caused contractors to de-establish.

About three months later contractors downed tools again after a court interdict was obtained against named and unnamed respondents (“City takes leaders to court”, September 16 2020). Weeks later two men were shot on November 27.

Last Monday July 5 contractors re-established after an integrated combined security plan was established and on Tuesday July 6 a security guard was shot in both legs and a site office was petrol bombed.

A day later the fourth man was shot in the chest.

Mr Booi said thankfully all of the victims were alive.

“The impact of delays and continuous violence is thus profound. Projects that are not completed in the specified timeframe also carry a greater risk of unlawful occupation. When that happens, housing opportunities for legitimately registered beneficiaries are lost,” he said.

In April the City of Cape Town called possible housing beneficiaries together discuss the gang violence hindering construction (“Beneficiaries should help build their houses, says ward councillor”, Plainsman April 14 2021).

The meetings were split between two venues to allow all interested members of the public the opportunity to attend, while observing all Covid-19 health and safety protocols; and to provide feedback to the community about the project.

After last week’s shootings both contractors have since de-established the site and all work has ceased.

The area remains tense and security has been increased, including City law enforcement agencies.

Mr Booi said: “The possibility that this is in relation to extortion rackets is not being ruled out. It is an increasingly common occurrence at City projects across the metro and it is to the detriment of the community at large and earmarked beneficiaries.”

He said the City and or its contractors, being responsible for their staff’s safety, implement various measures, including law enforcement escorts, private security or the suspension of projects and services, where the danger to life is pronounced.

“This impacts communities at large and beneficiaries and residents in particular.

“We urge anyone with information on this shooting to please come forward with anonymous tip offs to the City or to approach the SAPS,” he said.

Mr Booi said in general City projects have a localised labour component as well as a project steering committee (PSC) that represents beneficiaries and the community.

“The community is behind this project. The PSC was established in 2012 and has been actively involved in the decision making since the project’s inception,” said Mr Booi.

Last year the Plainsman spoke to a Montrose Park grandmother Bertha Abrahams that she had been sent from pillar to post trying to get a home for her family, who have been moving from yard to yard in the past 20 years.

She lives in a two-bedroom wendy house, with a bucket toilet and kitchen in a backyard, with her five children, including her disabled son and six grandchildren – metres away from one of the sites in Montrose Park.