'It was a nightmarish situation' - EFF's Mandisa Mashego on 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

“It was a nightmarish situation”, this is how the events of May 31 were described when houses of Alexandra residents were demolished.

EFF’s Gauteng chairperson Mandisa Mashego has relayed to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) what transpired the day some residents became homeless at the hands of the Red Ants who demolished their houses.

Mashego described the violent manner with which the evictions were carried out as well as the untoward attitude of the police.

She told the commission that she joined the EFF’s provincial secretary Moshe Koma at Alexandra after receiving calls from residents asking for help. Upon arrival, she tried to address some of the residents to understand what was happening but the police started shooting at the crowd.

“Hardly five minutes after we began addressing the residents, rubber bullets started charging at us and the police vehicles started approaching. Mainly it was the SAPS; I can’t remember what the JMPD [Johannesburg Metro Police Department] officers were doing at the time,” said Mashego, who described the situation as abnormal and highly charged.

She also told the commission how a police officer charged at her and pointed a gun, threatening to kill her "if she moved a step further" after she had demanded to speak to senior officers. She was saved the residents who started shouting at the police officer.

The SAHRC and public protector are conducting an inquiry into the demolition of about 80 houses by the Red Ants.

Mashego also told the commission that the City of Johannesburg, JMPD and the SAPS could not produce a court order which warranted the eviction and demolition of the houses.

“The demolition itself was illegal and of course grossly inhumane and not even in line with procedures of even a legal court for eviction. We tracked the head of JMPD who confirmed to the provincial secretary that there was no court order,” said Mashego.

The MMC for public safety, Michael Sun, could also not produce a copy of the court order.

Mashego said she then asked Sun if he could confirm that his officers were in the area legally and according to processes, to which he responded that he was surprised to hear about what was happening and said the municipality would institute an urgent investigation into the matter.

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