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Police hunt construction mafia killers after bullets fly at a Cape Flats building site

Police hunt construction mafia killers after bullets fly at a Cape Flats building site
Construction workers Bheki, Geranomo and Andile (not their real names) at Delft Symphony Way housing project on the outskirts of Cape Town. (Photo: Supplied)

Two construction workers came close to death after gunmen opened fire on them at a building site in Delft outside Cape Town earlier this month. Both men were wounded in the attack. Just over a week later, one of them saw a city official shot dead at the same site.

On Saturday 4 February, 49-year-old Bheki and 42-year-old Andile (not their real names) were shot and wounded while working at the Symphony Way Housing Project in Delft on the outskirts of Cape Town.

Bheki was shot in the leg while Andile was shot in the right thigh and had two bullets graze his buttocks. Two gunmen fired at them as they ran for cover.

Several days after the shooting, the site was petrol bombed.

On 16 February, City of Cape Town official Wendy Kloppers, died in a hail of bullets at the site. Employed at the city’s environmental affairs department, Kloppers was at the site to conduct an inspection.

The R500-million Symphony Way project is earmarked for 3,300 beneficiaries who are among the most vulnerable in the metro. They currently live in Blikkiesdorp, Malawi Camp and Freedom Park.

Following the murder of Kloppers, the site has been temporarily closed for safety reasons and for the police to conduct investigations.

Construction began on 22 March last year, but ground to a halt three months later after sections of the community protested. The city subsequently obtained an interdict and work continued unhindered until 4 February 2023.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Cape Town housing project halted as residents protest lack of job opportunities

Bheki and Andile’s story

Daily Maverick caught up with Bheki and Andile on Wednesday at their shacks in Blikkiesdorp. Both are married with children and, although still traumatised, say they will probably go back to the site and keep working.

On the day of the shooting, they kissed their wives and hugged their children goodbye before leaving at around 6.15am to reach work by 7am.

Everything went smoothly until after lunch. Both men were in a trench, showing the operator of a digger how deep to dig to avoid a water pipe.

Bheki said: “I heard shooting while the dig loader was digging. At the same time, I felt pain in my right leg. I had no idea what was going on. I thought the digger had hit a cable and injured my leg.

“I then noticed blood streaming from my leg and attempted to exit the trench… I saw two men holding guns. I fell while running, got up, and ran again while they were shooting at me… I had to crawl to safety. I saw them running away. I believe they fled because their guns were empty.”

Andile told Daily Maverick that when he heard the shots, he got out of the trench and ran. He was shot in the right thigh. Another two bullets grazed his buttocks.

But Bheki’s ordeal did not end there. Twelve days after being shot, he was returning to the site from the hospital.

“We were about 50 metres behind the car of the city official [at the gate]. There was another car behind her vehicle. We saw two gunmen get out of their car and fire several shots into [Kloppers’] vehicle… We reversed and sped away from the scene, turning into the nearest road leading away from the site.”

He said he did not see the faces of the killers.

“The only thing on your mind at that moment was to get away… I was thinking, ‘oh my word, don’t say I’m going to be shot a second time’.”

Afraid to go back on site

Both men said they are afraid to return to work but have no choice because they need to provide for their families.

Meanwhile, another construction worker, who also asked not to be identified , said he heard shots fired on the day Kloppers was murdered. He saw two men jump into a car and drive away.

“The next thing I saw was the car of the city official smashing through the gate. A security guard at the other side opened the second gate and the car sped through.

“At that time, everybody on the site was saying she was dead. My concern was to perform first aid on the injured security guard (who was bleeding).”

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

The city has offered a reward of R100,000 for information on the identities of those who killed Kloppers.

On the importance of the Symphony Way Housing Project, Blikkiesdorp community leader Jerome Daniels said: “Blikkiesdorp beneficiaries don’t want the housing project to stop. At the end of the day, all of us who moved to Blikkiesdorp 15 years ago will have a place to call home. This housing project will put an end to the hellhole known as Blikkiesdorp.”

City Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith would not comment on specifics as the police investigation was still under way.

Police have confirmed that the suspects are still at large and that the hunt for the killers continues.

Workers will meet construction company officials on Friday to hear when work will resume. DM


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