Citizen reporter
2 minute read
5 Jun 2019
4:35 pm

Joburg city manager says he was taken out of context at Alex Inquiry

Citizen reporter

The manager says he intends to urgently appoint a legal firm to investigate the circumstances around the demolitions.

Desperate Alexandra township residents salvage what was left of their homes, residents whose illegal structures were built too close to the Gautrain lines and demolished by workers of the Red Ants, 3 June 2019. Picture: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg city manager Ndivhoniswa Lukhwareni has expressed disappointment that he was taken out of context on Wednesday morning at the Human Rights Commission’s Alexandra inquiry.

This after Lukhwareni reportedly told the commission that he had authorised the demolition of at least 80 houses built on illegally occupied land.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Lukhwareni said: “The information I received in connection with the operation in Alexandra was for the demolition of incomplete and unoccupied structures.

“As the accounting officer for the City of Johannesburg, there are operational plans that do not require my approval.

“Nevertheless, it is my intention to urgently appoint a legal firm to investigate the circumstances around the demolitions.

“’I, therefore, request the media to afford my office the time needed to complete this crucial investigation and I also trust that I will not be taken out of context any further.”

A statement now issued by the city states that the city manager did not say that he had authorised the demolition of the houses but rather sought to explain to the commission that due to his role he “assumes ultimate responsibility for the administration in Johannesburg”.

“The City Manager did not personally issue the instruction for demolitions to take place. He felt compelled as the Accounting Officer of the City to be accountable for administrative activities in City,” the statement said.

The city further said that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) had issued the instruction to have the illegal structures demolished.

Alexandra residents were left destitute without houses when the Red Ants, the police, and JMPD demolished houses in Stjwetla, Ward 109, on Thursday.

The Human Rights Commission and the office of the public protector on Monday convened the third session of the inquiry into socioeconomic conditions in Alexandra, following weeks of service delivery protest in the area prior to the May 8 general elections.

The demolition of houses has become a political football with the African National Congress-led provincial government blaming the Democratic Alliance-led city of Joburg administration for carrying out the demolitions.

But the city of Joburg has said that the demolition, which sparked protests by residents, appeared to have been conducted without correct procedures being followed.

Protesters started to block Gautrain operations on Friday following demolitions in Alexandra.

Gauteng member of the executive council (MEC) for human settlements, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile also visited Alexandra over the weekend and assisted more than 160 destitute families with food.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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