Municipal contractors doing road repairs in Dunoon are being threatened by armed thugs demanding money, say City officials.
The allegation was made by City roads and transport department officials Robin Janse and Gilbert Titus at a Sub-council 3 meeting on Thursday May 18.
They were giving councillors feedback on pothole repairs and road resealing being done in various wards, including Milnerton, Blouberg, Dunoon and Edgemead.
When Meisie Makuwa, the ward councillor for Dunoon, complained that road repairs were being neglected in the neighbourhood, Mr Janse said a contractor doing pothole repairs there had been ambushed on the first day of the project.
“They were held up at gunpoint and told not to come back to the area unless they are prepared to give money.
“The contractors told us they would not go into the area fearing for their safety. Usually when City officials are in the area, nothing happens to them, but when it’s a private contractor, we often have issues like this.
“Just two weeks ago, a contractor was robbed of all his belongings while doing mechanical cleaning in the stormwater drains.”
Ms Makuwa said she had been unaware of the allegations made by the contractors.
“It’s news to me. I’m shocked to hear this. If this was reported, I would be aware,” she said.
She complained that she was sometimes not notified when a project started in her ward.
“Every project that starts in Dunoon, I’m supposed to be made aware. This is how we can alert community leaders and residents of the area about possible road or sewer projects. In terms of the gunpoint allegations and robberies, I’m not saying Mr Janse is lying, but these allegations feel untrue,” she said.
Ms Makuwa added that she had a close relationship with the community leaders, residents and Milnerton SAPS.
“If there were any incidents or reports about contractors being held at gunpoint or being robbed, I would know about it. The community usually tells me everything. Even the taxi drivers have certain patrol cars in the area and they would have been alerted if anything like this was happening. I want to urge the City officials to give me a report of these incidents so we can follow up.”
Mr Janse and Mr Titus said that they would provide the councillor with the information she needed to follow up on the allegations.
Sub-council 3 chairman Phindile Maxiti said that the dynamics in Dunoon were quite different, to the point that constant communication with the councillor and community leaders was important.
“My call is that even if there is routine maintenance happening in Dunoon, let myself and councillor Makuwa know. The councillor and I are in constant engagement with the community leaders. For example, there will be a project soon where the MyCiTi stations will be rebuilt in the area. And our communication with the leaders in the area is vital,” he said.
Dunoon community leader Jacob Mayo said that he had also not heard of any extortion claims, but robberies were a problem in the area.
“We have a lot of robberies here. Every day, morning and night, there is a robbery. People going to and coming back from school and work are always the targets. We as a community are fed up with this, and we want the police to get more involved,” he said.
Milnerton SAPS did not respond by deadline to questions about whether there were any reports of contractors being threatened and robbed in Dunoon.
Mr Titus said he could not speak to Tabletalk directly about the allegations and directed us to the City’s media office, which also failed to respond by deadline.
In recent years, several accusations of extortion in Dunoon and Joe Slovo have surfaced. In May 2022, police arrested four suspects in Langa for allegedly kidnapping a 31-year-old man from a business in Dunoon and demanding a ransom from his family. They were charged with kidnapping and extortion (“Cops catch four for Dunoon kidnapping,” Tabletalk, May 11). In April 2020, Joe Slovo residents said they feared an extortion syndicate was behind the killing of a taxi owner and another man, although police were unable to confirm this at the time (“Joe Slovo on edge after double killing,” Tabletalk, April 21, 2021).