The details surrounding the missing R1.3 billion meant for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) were heard behind closed doors yesterday at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) inquiry into the Alexandra protests – but it emerged the leaders behind the township’s protests may have been behind the disappearance of the money.
The HRC’s Buang Jones said the head of the forensic investigative unit of the City of Joburg, Shadrack Sibiya, delivered his testimony behind closed doors due to the sensitive nature of the information.
The probe was set up following weeks of disruptive service delivery protests earlier this year, and was aimed at investigating alleged corruption and possible human rights violations in the township. It also looked into allegations of corruption in the renewal project, launched in 2001 to develop the township.
Last week, tensions flared again when the “Red Ants” security company demolished 80 illegally erected structures in Marlboro informal settlement.
On Wednesday, Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said a Gauteng provincial government official had unlawfully accessed files on the ARP, which were stored in a City of Joburg office.
“I have learnt with disbelief that a Gauteng provincial government official in the department of human settlements is alleged to have unlawfully accessed City of Joburg offices containing files on the Alexandra Renewal Project,” said Mashaba.
The disappearance of the documents came at a time when the city had launched a full-scale forensic investigation into the project.
A preliminary report revealed that leaders of the Alexandra shutdown, Tefo Raphadu and Sandile Mavundla, had allegedly benefitted from the project.
According to the report, the pair allegedly started the protests after the city informed the Ditlhodi Community Development Corporation, which they were part of, of its plans to withdraw funding. The company was reportedly receiving R161 000 a month from the ARP.
Yesterday, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Mandisa Mashego testified at the inquiry in place of party leader Julius Malema, who sent an apology. She said the situation in Alex was dire after the Red Ants had demolished the illegal structures.
The inquiry received oral submissions from various stakeholders, including the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the inter-ministerial task team on Alexandra, the City of Joburg’s Forensics Unit, and the office of the premier in Gauteng.
The first witness to take the stand at the inquiry on Monday was Thandeka Mosa, head of the department of cooperative governance in Gauteng. Mosa told the panel there were many issues of concern in Alexandra.
“What we picked up in Alex is that some communities were of the view that even though they raised concerns proactively, these [community challenges] were not timeously or adequately addressed. And there could be perceptions that maybe the differences in political affiliation by different councillors could have led to that,” Mosa said.