Red Ants demand R10.6m from Joburg for 3 days’ work

Red Ants busy with an eviction in Johannesburg, 21 June 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

For what it was charged, the municipality could buy close to 100 RDP houses.

The notorious Red Ant Security Relocation & Eviction Services – better known as the Red Ants – has charged the City of Joburg a whopping R10.6 million for three days’ work last year.

This was revealed in High Court in Johannesburg this week, when a squabble over payment came before a judge – only to be struck from the roll.

The reason for this was unclear.

The city said payment had not been made and when asked yesterday if it would oppose any future court action on the part of the Red Ants to recover this money, it said it would “exercise its options”.

As per the court papers, the city was invoiced R10 653 080.32 for “eviction, relocation and security services” provided by the Red Ants on May 2, 23 and 31, 2019.

The papers did not detail the work for which the company was demanding payment further than that, and Red Ant Security Relocation & Eviction Services did not respond to The Citizen’s request for comment yesterday.

“It is not clear to the city what these invoices relate to and the court will make a determination,” said city spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane.

He added, however, large-scale evictions took place in and around Johannesburg on all three days mentioned.

According to reports, shack dwellers in Mayibuye were left homeless after the Red Ants burnt down their lodgings on May 2; as were residents of Lenasia South, when the Red Ants tore down a number of newly built houses in Lenasia South on May 23.

Then, on May 31, the Red Ants swooped on Alexandra and demolished homes there, inciting the community’s ire and triggering a shutdown of the sprawling township.

For what it was charged, the municipality could buy close to 100 Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses.

In a 2018 reply to a question from the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Ntokozo Khonziwe Fortunate Hlonyana, the minister of human settlements said the average cost of constructing a fully subsidised house in Gauteng was R116,000.

The minister pointed out that the cost of the raw land was R6,000 and the cost of fitting the site with water and sanitation infrastructure was R7,673.

Working from these figures, R10,653,080.32 would cover the cost of the construction of 91 RDP houses. And it would cover the cost of the land, water and sanitation infrastructure and construction for 82 of these homes.

According to its website, the Red Ants provide a range of services, including clean-up campaigns, construction services, disaster management, civil engineering, turfing services, water and sanitation services and cleaning and refuse removal, but they are best known as the hired muscle of choice for municipalities looking to remove illegal occupiers.

Last year, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority suspended the Red Ants’ registration following claims it had flouted the law during the May 31 Alexandra evictions.

The courts, however, ended up lifting what was, in effect, a ban on its operations.

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