Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba issued a statement on Wednesday in which he claimed to reveal "[t]he truth behind #AlexShutDown movement".
"Following my announcement of a forensic investigation into the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), some alarming information is coming forward, proving the vested interests of the leaders of the #AlexShutDown movement," Mashaba said.
Mashaba said the leaders of the movement were the directors of a company called the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative.
"These individuals left the employ of a company, Altitude Pty Ltd, which was contracted to provide community liaison services for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP)," according to Mashaba.
"They left the employ of Altitude Pty Ltd shortly before the expiry of the contract between this company and the ARP, and immediately started the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative. Within a matter of two months, they were then awarded a contract to continue the community liaison work for the ARP from April 2015, earning around R161 000 per month.
"The appointment to provide the very same community liaison services that Altitude Pty Ltd had been contracted to provide, was for a period of six months. Through a series of extensions, this contract continued running until present times.
Contract not renewed
"In February 2019, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) gave notice that this contract would not be extended beyond June 2019, as the funding had ceased from Provincial Government.
"It is therefore no coincidence that the directors of the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative are the ring-leaders of the protests in Alexandra," Mashaba stated.
The mayor said the directors of this company include Sandile Mavundla, the "ring-leader of the #AlexShutDown Movement" and Tefo Raphadu, an ANC ward councillor.
"It has nothing to do with the genuine needs of the people of Alexandra, but the extent to which the ARP has funded politically connected people at the expense of service delivery.
"How else could you explain the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative receiving money in 2019 for the ARP which ground to a halt in 2006?" said Mashaba.
Protests have been 'hijacked'
"What is clearly emerging is that the events in Alexandra over the past two weeks have little to do with the very legitimate grievances of the people of Alexandra. The protests have hijacked these grievances and been used to protect the financial interests of people who are linked to criminal wrongdoing."
Mashaba said it was "clear" that Mavundla and Raphadu wanted to prevent him from speaking to the residents of Alexandra about these matters, or solutions to their service delivery needs.
"Of interest is the discovery by our forensics team of the involvement of senior ANC leadership in Johannesburg in these protests. As to why senior ANC leadership would choose to involve themselves in protecting the financial interests of the Directors of the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative, I am sure our investigation will find out.
"Our forensic team will get to the bottom of what appears to be one of the most elaborate networks of corruption in the City of Johannesburg.
"I am confident that what will arise from this will be the arrests of those implicated, and the liberation of the people of Alexandra from a criminal regime that has sought to keep them silent," Mashaba said.
Raphadu denied his involvement as an "instigator" of the protests, or that he received money as alleged by Mashaba.
"The mayor is looking for blame where he can find it and unfortunately not trying to deal with the issues in Alex," Raphadu told News24.
I never received any money
"For starters, I never received R161 000. When I became a councillor in 2016, I resigned as a director [of Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative].
"I am not a ringleader of anything. I am a ward councillor. The people that elected me to office are the ones raising these issues. As a responsible leader, I am [siding] with my community, who are my bosses."
Raphadu said he has had no contact with Mavundla since he resigned as a director of Ditlodi.
Mavundla confirmed to Times Live that he was a director of the Ditlodi Community Development Cooperative, but said Mashaba's statements were a "fabrication".
"The contract is still on, so his statements are baseless. I am residing in Alex and when there are issues that concern Alex people, I am a leader of my own right in Alex and not Ditlodi.
"There is only one individual on Ditlodi that is administrated on the shutdown and it is not the total of Ditlodi (sic)," he reportedly said.
Mashaba has been under pressure following a series of protest actions in Alexandra in the past few weeks. Earlier in April, residents blockaded roads and protested over a number of issues, including a high demand for housing and unresolved title deed issues, litter, and crime.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Zweli Mkhize met Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Mkhize's Gauteng counterpart, MEC Uhuru Moiloa, on Tuesday, as work starts on addressing the grievances raised by disgruntled Alexandra residents, News24 reported.