A City of Johannesburg official has been suspended, pending an investigation into the demolition of houses by the Red Ant Security Company in Alexandra during May, reports Sandton Chronicle.
Spokesperson for the City Nthatisi Modingoane confirmed that an official had been suspended, but did not provide further details.
“As this is an ongoing matter, the City is not at liberty to discuss it any further as this may prejudice the rights of all parties involved,” said Modingoane.
He added that it would be premature for the City to comment on the merits and time frame of the investigation at this stage.
The Red Ants demolished more than 80 structures illegally built near the Marlboro railway bridge. City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba visited the area shortly after the incident and told residents that he was unaware of the demolitions and that whoever acted on them did it illegally.
Mashaba promised the affected residents that the City would rebuild the demolished structures. However, the Alex Shut Down movement opened a criminal case against Mashaba for promising to rebuild illegal structures where there was an alleged court order prohibiting it.
Mashaba denied these claims.
“There was no court order. Even if there was a court order, the Constitutional Court would require me to find alternative accommodation if I remove them from the illegal land. Where would I find the accommodation? Officially, there are people who acted and gave a directive without a court order.”
Meanwhile, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) has granted the Red Ant Security Company conditional permission to trade after being suspended on July 1 for the demolition of Alexandra houses. According to PSiRA, the Red Ant Security Company lodged an appeal in terms of Section 30, following their recent suspension. The appeal will be adjudicated by the Appeals Committee appointed by the minister of police, Bheki Cele.
In the meantime, the Red Ants will continue to operate on condition that, unless exceptional circumstances exist, they may render any other service except demolitions and eviction services, pending the finalisation of the appeal process.
PSiRA chief executive officer Manabela Chauke said: “The Authority shall be guided by the eventual outcomes of the Appeals Committee appointed by the minister before arriving at a final determination.”