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Age of extortion – Gunmen kill security guard, wound another in latest attack on Cape Town housing project

Age of extortion – Gunmen kill security guard, wound another in latest attack on Cape Town housing project
A security guard has been shot and killed and another wounded at the Symphony Way Housing Project in Delft, Cape Town. This photo was taken the day before, on 15 February, 2023. (Photo: Suné Payne, Daily Maverick)

The shootings come barely 24 hours after guards on a housing construction site revealed to Daily Maverick their fears amid alleged Mafia-like extortion in Delft.

Gunmen have struck again at the Symphony Way Housing Project site, this time leaving a security guard dead and her male colleague wounded. The shootings come barely a week after the City of Cape Town put up a R5,000 reward in response to the wounding of three workers at the site.   

The latest victims were guarding the R500-million City project on Thursday when the gunmen fired at them several times. 

Their motive is unknown, but mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi has previously said attacks on this and other building sites in the metro are linked to extortion. A day after the earlier attack, the site was petrol-bombed.

On Thursday, construction was immediately halted following the shooting while police combed the site for leads. Ward councillor Michelle Adonis said trucks and tractors stopped immediately and workers congregated in a safe area.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said that following the shootings police found the body of the 48-year-old guard inside a vehicle on the corner of Magalies and Mandara streets at N2 Gateway. She had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was declared dead on the scene.

Her colleague had been taken to a nearby hospital.


The killers fled and police are investigating cases of murder and attempted murder, Swartbooi added. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

On Sunday, the City said housing projects worth about R1-billion were under threat as Mafia-like gangs and extortionists repeatedly vandalise or destroy homes being built for thousands of beneficiaries across the city.

Read in Daily Maverick:Extortion by gangs is hampering the delivery of housing projects in Cape Town, with Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis warning against a potential ‘mafia state’ if it is not reined in


On Wednesday, when Daily Maverick visited the site to investigate reports of extortion, the guards on duty appeared petrified. One said: “Please don’t show the logo of our company. Take the pictures from our back. We come to work to earn a salary so that we can put food on the table.

“We know it is dangerous working at the site because we don’t know when the shootings start. None of us know if we are going to make it to our home at the end of the day.”

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Local ward councillor Michelle Adonis said she was shocked by news of the latest shootings.

“Why the shootings? How many people are going to be killed? It is best to close down the site so that things can cool down. It is important that police find out who is behind these killings and arrest them,” she said.

Booi has said City housing projects across the metro face extortion, criminality, vandalism, community unrest and unlawful occupation.

“We can see many such incidents in communities across the metro where we are rolling out these critical human settlements projects, but many are marred by increasing forceful community interference or intimidation, extortion and gangsterism, the threat of unlawful occupation and general theft,” Booi said.

Delft Community Policing Forum chairperson Charles George condemned the incident: “It seems that the extortionists want their money. It is best to temporarily close the site, open a satellite police station at the site and then resume the work.”

Shortly before the shooting, Booi urged residents of areas in which there are housing projects to approach him if they can help to ensure the projects remain on track. DM

This is a developing story. Daily Maverick will update this article when further information becomes available.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Construction mafia, housing mafia, mining mafia and a totally incompetent minister of police are a recipe for disaster.

  • Marcus Struik says:

    Follow the money! These criminals are being funded. Find out who is behind and go after them.

  • Dieter Meuche says:

    In one of his speeches to his “Fellow South Africans” during the Pandemic President Ramaphosa said that his government would take immediate steps against the Construction Mafia. That was at least a year ago. What has his government done about it since?

  • R S says:

    Maybe these are the sort of projects the army should be involved in, instead of trying to act like a secondary police force in the areas with the gangs?

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    The ANC is the top-dog mafia.
    The mafia wants the DA out of the Western Cape.
    The whole country suffers, but the mafia gives zero effs.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    The police are useless, and probably bring paid off. The Mayor is right. This situation needs to be reigned in chop chop, but the cops are a rotten bunch through and through. Appoint an outsider to investigate, someone like George Fivas. Tracking down this Kingpin shouldn’t be too difficult. Or perhaps it’s time to establish an Untouchables kind of grouping to investigate organised crime in the City. Nip these crackers in the bud!

  • Timothy Fearnhead says:

    Someone must know who is running these gangs but it does not seem to be the police or if they do they are also terrified or part of the problem/

  • Alan Oswald says:

    The fish rots from the head. We have a culture of indifference to illegal activities and EFF type racism which pervades our whole country. Until this stops, and people pay at the top for their wrongdoings, it will only get worse

  • Hansie Rheeder says:

    The construction mafia was born the second PPPFA regulations was amended to include a 30% community participation requirement. Thugs hijacked the projects and started extortion and intimidation. Squirrel promised a dedicated task force 3 years ago, yet nothing came from it. Sakeliga via the courts overturned the regulation, yet the damage was done. The poorest of the poor are (yet again) the people being denied housing and services.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Get those cops who shot all those people at Marikana. Poorly trained security guards are just sitting ducks.

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