South Africa: Mashaba Promises to Rebuild Demolished Alexandra Homes, and Give Them Electricity

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says a team of council officials will visit Alexandra on Tuesday to assess the needs of residents whose shacks were demolished by Red Ants and metro police last Friday.

On Monday, Mashaba visited the site where all that was left was rubble and zinc roofs.

As he walked past, some residents watched from a distance as they picked up what remained of their homes. Mashaba was joined by mayoral committee member (MMC) for housing Meshack van Wyk, MMC for public safety Michael Sun and city manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni. Economic Freedom Fighters Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego was also present during the visit.

Mashaba informed residents that his office had not been informed about the demolitions and that no proper channels were used.

He said he had asked for a full report from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and other stakeholders to establish what had transpired.

"I cannot really say that I am disappointed, I am personally angry. Whether you guys built here illegally is beside the point. The point is that you are dealing with human beings," Mashaba told cheering residents.

He asked the residents to give the City an opportunity work on a plan on how to rebuild the demolished structures.

"What happened did not have my political directive and the support of the multi-party government that I lead. I don't think an apology is enough.

"I understand you are here illegally, but the thing is, the City removed you illegally. Two wrongs cannot make a right," said Mashaba.

Electricity promise

He promised that Van Wyk and Lukhwareni would come up with a plan and revisit the area to assess and establish the costs of the process.

"This particular demolition was not just a normal demolition, it's had political implications and you must understand that there is going to be people who are going to do everything possible to sabotage what I am promising you," he said.

He also urged residents to work with the City's administration to facilitate the process of rebuilding the structures. Mashaba said, while the houses were being built, he would also be approach Eskom to install electricity for residents.

His promise of electricity elicited cheers from the crowd, with some shouting: "Viva Mashaba, viva!"

"If Eskom does not allow us as the City to give you electricity, we will pay Eskom and they must provide you," said Mashaba.

The assessment of the area would start on Tuesday, Mashaba said.

Mashego told the residents that her office had written a letter to the Department of Home Affairs, requesting that a mobile truck be dispatched to the area to assist with identity documents and birth certificates for residents. She said she'd also asked Mashaba to dispatch social workers to the area to offer counselling to the community.

"There is a lot of trauma here. The Red Ants were stopped by the women, and eventually the community came to join to help pelt stones at them so that they can leave. So, social development must come here as soon as tomorrow and help with trauma counselling," said Mashego.

She said there was a database of 163 people who were owners of the demolished structures, to avoid corruption when the rebuilding process starts.

Mashego also requested that, as the City looked at the rebuilding programme, it also investigate the issue of toilets, as there was a sanitation crisis in the area.

'Mashaba has decided to act illegally'

Members of the Alexandra #TotalShutdown campaign have claimed that Mashaba treated the community with the same disdain he did during the recent protests. In a statement, they accused the mayor of going against a court interdict by resettling an illegal settlement.

"The community of Alexandra has service delivery issues, the discharging of by-laws, removal of illegal structures and the stopping of mushrooming informal settlements, however, to date the City has not responded. We are now perplexed at their response to illegal settlements, where they themselves carried out the demolition of the illegally built houses.

"We don't condone the inhumane condition in which the exercise of demolition was carried out, however we still support the call for demolition of illegal structures.

"However, for reasons unknown, Mashaba has taken an about-turn and committed to the rebuilding of the illegally built houses and, in our view, this is promoting lawlessness. Mashaba has decided to act illegally by not observing a court order. The mayor has also committed tax funds illegally by engaging in populist political activities," read the statement.

They claimed that Mashaba was subverting the basic human rights of the illegal occupiers by leaving them on unsafe grounds and continue to ignore the rights of law-abiding citizens of Alexandra who were waiting for services and land to build their own homes.

'Giving the middle finger to Alexandra'

"It's clear that the City sanctioned the demolitions and now wants to appease their political allies within the City administration by doing wrong things. We caution Mashaba not to set a bad precedence in his endeavour to play politics, and be the mayor that puts the City beyond party politics.

"He is basically encouraging those who are breaking the law to jump the queue. There are people who have C-form and are on the waiting list. Instead, he is rewarding lawlessness. What about people who waited since 1996? What about people in the old Alex and those who have been in Stjwetla for some time now?

"People of Alexandra [have] yet to hear from him regarding their service delivery challenges. Clearly, he is selective in servicing Joburg residents, and today's action proves exactly that. Mayor Mashaba has no intention of dealing with issues of Alexandra. In fact, today's action is tantamount to giving the middle finger to Alexandra," said the organisation.

Source: News24

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