Dozens of people who claimed to be living in some of the 114 shacks demolished by the Red Ants Relocation and Eviction Services, during an operation mandated by the City of Johannesburg last week told The Citizen they had been given no notice of eviction.
The Red Ants, so-called because of their red overalls and red helmets, have been criticised for alleged use of heavy-handed tactics when carrying out evictions.
“After the story came out in the media, I got panicked calls from the higher structures of the ANC asking why we were allowing such things [alleged evictions] to happen,” MEC Jacob Mamabolo told The Citizen when approached for comment on Tuesday.
He claimed the EFF may have paid people to pose as affected residents to score ‘political points’.
The EFF’s Dali Mpofu however challenged the MEC to substantiate his claims.
“Those allegations are … untrue. We were called by the residents of Zandspruit; we had no idea what was going on,” EFF legal officer Zuko Madikane said.
Legal researcher and advocacy officer Michael Clark said if people were living in the shacks, the city should have obtained a court order so as not to leave people homeless.
On Monday the Red Ant Security and Eviction Services company and Mamabolo signed an agreement that the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable — the elderly, children and the disabled — should be protected during evictions.
Mamabolo said the agreement would not stop eviction orders being carried out, but would ensure that those affected were not denigrated in the process.
The Red Ants agreed to give the department 48 hours’ notice before carrying out evictions.