Alexandra project documents returned to City of Joburg after disappearing from locked office

2019-07-03 16:08
The horrendous conditions in Alexandra, where people are living under.

The horrendous conditions in Alexandra, where people are living under. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

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A government official who allegedly stole files relating to the investigation of the controversial R1.3bn Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), has returned the documents.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, said the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements employee returned three documents and meeting attendance registers.

He did not name the official.

"Our forensic investigators said the Gauteng provincial government official arrived on June 18, 2019 at the City's regional office in Sandton and advised the City's investigators of where files and meeting attendance registers he had taken could be located. The three files and meeting attendance registers were moved to another office by the official after he gained unlawful access to the locked ARP office and removed files containing evidence related to the ARP investigation.

"At the time, the MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cogta (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, had allegedly denied the official's involvement. The City had communicated the details of the official to the Office of the Premier following the denial.

"Our forensics unit is in possession of a recorded interview with this official in which he confirms that he had unlawfully procured a key for the locked office. In the recording, the official confirms having accessed the locked office. It is worth noting that this official was formerly employed by the City of Johannesburg within the ARP project.

"It was also established by the City that no permission was given for keys to be cut or for access to be granted to this official of the Gauteng provincial government."

READ MORE: Alexandra renewal project disappointing - survey

The mayor said it was outrageous that such an act had taken place.

"We remain uncertain as to whether these are all the files removed, and whether evidence contained therein has been tampered with," he said.

Mashaba has asked the City's Group Forensic Investigation Services (GFIS), headed by General Shadrack Sibiya, to lay criminal charges against the official.

"I have also written to Premier [David] Makhura, not only notifying him of this new development, but also requesting an update on promised action from MEC Maile in respect of his investigation into the matter."

Mashaba challenged Makhura and said, if he was serious about the ARP investigation, he must immediately investigate the official's actions and determine who gave him the instructions to take the files.

Mashaba, who launched a probe into the 2001 project, alleged that the GFIS received information that the ARP served as a "slush fund for the ANC, the City of Johannesburg under previous governments and the provincial government".

"ANC members were employed to drive the ARP in Alexandra. From the information we have received, their task was to direct funding to ANC-aligned companies that under-delivered on housing and channelled money back to the ANC. There can be no question that the money set aside to bring development to Alexandra has been looted," he alleged.

READ: City of Joburg probes Alexandra Renewal Project

Department of Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cogta spokesperson, Castro Ngobese, said the department supported Mashaba's investigations and called on the mayor to lay criminal charges against the official.

Ngobese said the documents belonged to the department, but they gave them to the City to assist in the matter. 

"The department is looking forward to the outcomes of the City's investigations," said Ngobese. 

The project was one of eight urban nodes of the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programme announced by former president Thabo Mbeki during his State of the Nation Address on February 9, 2001.

The programme was meant to address urbanisation and housing challenges in South Africa. The estimated budget for the Alexandra Renewal Project in 2011, which was for the redevelopment of Alexandra, was R1.3bn over seven years.

Read more on:    city of joburg  |  herman mashaba  |  johannesburg ­  |  corruption  |  politics  |  service delivery

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