Joburg city manager knew about demolition of Alex houses

Grandmother of three Liza Modiba lost her home after the Red Ants demolished houses built without authorisation on the floodplains of Jukskei river in Alexandra.
Grandmother of three Liza Modiba lost her home after the Red Ants demolished houses built without authorisation on the floodplains of Jukskei river in Alexandra.
Image: KABELO MOKOENA

The city manager of Johannesburg Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni knew about plans to demolish houses in Alexandra but he thought no one lived in them. 

This was an admission by Lukhwareni during an inquiry by the SA Human Rights Commission and the public protector in Braamfontein on Wednesday.

“From my understanding the structures targeted were unoccupied, incomplete and those which were complete were unoccupied. That being that, on the same day we released the disaster management [to help the homeless people],” said Lukhwareni.

Lukhwareni was being asked about the evictions by the Red Ants last week.  Hundreds of people were left homeless after the demolition of about 80 structures, apparently because they were built too close to the Juskei River.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba warned on Monday that officials who agreed to the demolition of houses would face consequences.  

Mashaba said he was left angry after finding out that the order used to carry out the evictions was obtained in September 2016. He then promised the community that the city would rebuild the destroyed structures within a month.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Red Ants identified the City of Johannesburg as the organisation they were acting on behalf when they demolished people’s homes.

Red Ant Security Relocation and Eviction Services said it was in possession of a court order obtained by the City of Johannesburg against “unlawful occupiers” dated September 7 2016. The company said it did not undertake eviction on its own,but acts to help authorities.

“Red Ants only becomes involved once its services are requested and commissioned by a party that has obtained a court order, and in turn becomes involved in order to assist the sheriff of the court and police authorities. Red Ants only became involved in this matter when it was formally appointed by the City of Johannesburg as a service provider to counter land invasions, assist in relocating and eviction and the demolition of unlawful structures,” said the Red Ants chief operations officer Fuzile Balintulo.

The ANC described the evictions as inhumane and blamed them on the EFF- and DA-run Joburg metro.

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