Alexandra shutdown had nothing to do with politics - residents tell SAHRC and Public Protector inquiry

Alexandra Total Shutdown conveners Bobby Solomons and Sandile Mavundla make submissions to SAHRC and Public Protector inquiry into socio-economic issues faced by the township.(Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)
Alexandra Total Shutdown conveners Bobby Solomons and Sandile Mavundla make submissions to SAHRC and Public Protector inquiry into socio-economic issues faced by the township.(Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

Land invaders, illegal structures, housing and service delivery are the issues at the heart of their protests, not politics, Alexandra residents told the South African Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector's office on Monday. 

The two institutions heard submissions from Alexandra residents following violent protests in the township in April. 

Conveners of the Total Shutdown movement, Bobby Solomons and Sandile Mavundla were the first to make submissions.

They said major concerns were a lack of service delivery which left streets strewn with dirt, a lack of road maintenance, illegal electrification, land invasions and the building of illegal structures. 

"Because of the illegal structures, we are situated where people pay bonds and those illegal invaders are devaluing the property of our people so we need intervention," Mavundla said. 

Solomons said the influx of people who were occupying spaces illegally had led to the township being neglected, as city officials could not effectively service the entire area.

He said people who were building illegal structures do so in "hazardous places" including under electrical pylons and near river banks, which meant they would be eligible for RDP houses sooner than others.  

Solomons said this was unfair to Alexandra residents who were in possession of C forms and were promised houses as far back as 1996. 

A C form is a receipt that was used as proof that someone is registered on the previous waiting list. The form has now been replaced with new Demand Database receipt that is computer generated.

"The issue of land invasions, people invade land unabated. JMPD and SAPS are not really coming to the party in terms of dealing with these issues, preventing the invasions of land," said Solomons.

Solomons and Mavundla also clarified that the recent protests had nothing to do with politics but rather issues of service delivery. They refuted the claims by the City of Johannesburg and DA that there was a political group behind the protests. 

"There is nothing that attaches the Total Shutdown with politics. It's basically the issue of development of Alex, the issue of service delivery of Alexandra.

"Politicians need to be clear especially the City of Johannesburg as well as the DA, that the protests in Alex were non-political," Mavundla said. 

Ext 9 and 10 landlord, tenant feud

The inquiry also heard the concerns of residents of K206 extension 9 and 10, who questioned the landlord and tenant system.

Identifying themselves as a group called the anti-rental committee, Malebu Mokgabudi and Pheladi Makelani said they were refusing to pay rent and were now calling for government to either put the renting system to an end or give them their own houses, and title deeds.

The K206 housing allocation was established in 2010 and was facilitated by the City of Johannesburg's then-Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

A system of tenant and landlord was established. The flatlets were allocated to former shack dwellers, mostly unemployed at the time. 

Those with jobs were then allocated outside rooms on the ground floor of the flatlets and had to pay a monthly tenant rental of about R350 to the 'landlord'.

However, Mokgabudi and Makelani said the 'tenants' were concerned about the 'landlords', alleging that some of them were not South African citizens.

"Is it fair that a citizen of South Africa pay a rent to a foreigner, I am not being xenophobic. 

"The point is how can a Zimbabwean or a Malawian have an RDP house with several rooms, while a South African doesn't have an RDP house and is supposed to pay rent to the so-called landlord," Mokgabudi said.

Inquiry to study submissions

She added that the 'landlords' were now calling on the those who were renting to move out.

Mokgabudi said they were therefore calling for the government to intervene as they would not be moving out unless they were given houses, and compensated for the money they had used to renovate the flatlets.

"If they move us, they must build us the same (RDP) houses and they must also pay us the money that we [used, to] fix the houses," she said.

SA Human Rights Commission Gauteng provincial manager Buang Jones said they would study and evaluate the submissions and make recommendations. 

"At the end of this process we will also evaluate the evidence and submissions that we have received and determine whether there is a need to bring in other institutions such as the Auditor General to look into the audit reports pertaining to the Alexandra Renewal Project and whether there is a need to conduct a forensic audit into the entire project," Jones said. 

The inquiry will resume on Tuesday and is expected to hear submissions from the City Manager of Johannesburg and the office Premier David Makhura. 

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