City of Joburg denies Lenasia deaths linked to eviction

The City of Johannesburg has denied evicting Lenasia residents‚ saying the incident that is believed to have led to the death of two people on Friday was a shack demolition.

Spokesman Luyanda Mfeka said “red ants” security guards were called in at the request of the Sherriff of the High Court after the municipality obtained a court order to prevent residents from erecting shacks illegally.

Mfeka said the operation was not an eviction‚ but rather that “unoccupied structures” were torn down in line with the court order.

Tensions rose during the demolition and two people were killed. Community members have blamed the death on the red ants and police.

However‚ Mfeka said at least one of the deaths may not be linked to the shack demolition. He was not aware of the second death.

“During that process it was discovered that a person was shot. We believe it is unrelated to the operation‚” he said.

Explaining the background to the incident‚ Mfeka said that the land in question had a total of 98 plots‚ 66 of which were owned by the City of Johannesburg.

The land has been earmarked for a development using the “site and service approach” which would see the municipality provide serviced stands to residents who are able to build their own homes.

Mfeka said the land had been illegally occupied in July‚ although there was an established informal settlement there already.

News of the alleged eviction had angered the EFF in Gauteng‚ with the EFF Gauteng deputy secretary general‚ Kgabo Hlonyana‚ saying the party wanted answers from mayor Herman Mashaba.

Hlonyana said there had been a council resolution that no evictions would take place. The EFF had staged a sit in at the city council on Friday afternoon following the deaths.

Mfeka said there were currently no plans for Mashaba to visit the area‚ saying he would await the outcome of the police investigation.

He said the city would await the conclusion of the police investigation.