Cape Town – After a construction project was interrupted due to extortion attempts, the Western Cape MEC of education, David Maynier visited the site where the Manenberg School of Skills is to be erected.
The construction project is valued at R84-million and was scheduled to take 87 weeks to build.
According to Maynier, any delay in construction has a direct impact on the community which is in desperate need of more places for pupils in schools of skills.
“I visited the site where the Manenberg School of Skills is under construction. Work at the site was interrupted at the end of last month by a group of individuals attempting to extort the appointed contractor.
“We have now received additional information about a group seeking to intimidate the contractors on the site,” Maynier said.
He said he met with senior a official from Manenberg Police Station where he provided all this information in the form of an affidavit to the police.
Maynier said the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will not be held to ransom by those who seek to exploit public funds and his department will give its full support to the South African Police Service (SAPS) to end the extortion rackets that plague its building industry.
“Our children’s futures come first.
“A group arrived at the site and demanded to be awarded a contract for providing security services in exchange for “protecting” the site from gangs.
“They also wanted all contracts for the supply of materials to be awarded to businesses that are under the ownership or control of the group and their associates.
“They harassed, intimidated, and threatened the contractors.
“It is imperative that our government be allowed to construct schools speedily, unencumbered by illegal extortion practices that compromise the delivery of enough places for learners in our schools,” Maynier said.
The number of pupils in schools increases on average by around 18 000 pupils annually.
The WCED said there is a great need for places in schools of skills that offer pupils hope, dignity, and the skills needed to thrive in our economy.
Maynier said 18 to 20 schools needed to be built or the same number of classrooms each year to ensure they can deliver quality education to every pupil in every classroom in every school in the province.
“But we cannot do this when criminal elements put their personal gain ahead of the needs of our children.
“It’s time to stand up to the “construction mafia”.
“If you interfere in our school construction sites, we will not hesitate to involve SAPS. Be warned,” Maynier added.