The area is not new to extortion claims, which have previously sought to halt development and throw local business into a state of disarray.
In May a first-of-its-kind fibre installation project was halted as contractors were fearful after they received threats from an extortionist who demanded a protection fee.
After the contractor refused to pay the fee, the extortionist allegedly suggested that 30 of their people be employed to ensure the project continue without any problems – which the contractor also rejected.
Consequently, a new fibre installation sub-contractor had to step in to complete the project after the initial contractor withdrew.
The CPF confirmed a case had been opened after the site manager recorded a conversation with the extortionist, who demanded “an offer be put on the table” for work to continue.
CPF chairperson Graham Lindhorst said the CPF was called on to assist a contractor renovating the KFC building in Bishop Lavis after they were told to stop the renovations last week and had what the extortionist called a round-table sitting.
“The contractor confirmed the person who stopped them came again and spoke about an offer to be put on the table for work to continue. That conversation was recorded by the site manager and a case has subsequently been opened,” he said.
Lindhorst said initially the contractor, in his quest to continue the renovations, offered to take on local labour. However, when the workers started with the work they were stopped, threatened and chased off the site.
“Monday afternoon the same happened and presently no work is continuing as a result of the contractor not wanting to pay to continue with the renovations,” he said.
However, when the Cape Argus visited the KFC outlet at Corner Lenton Drive and League Road, renovation work had resumed with private security personnel and neighbourhood watch members manning the main entrance.
Police spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed that the case was under investigation by the Provincial Extortion Task Team.
However, due to what he said was the serious nature of the allegations and the police’s strong approach to rooting out extortion in the province, he said the office would not elaborate on the finer aspects of the case at this stage.
Ward councillor Charles Esau said the extortionists were hampering development in the area and that this was now getting out of hand.