Demolished structures in Alexandra. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA).
Johannesburg - Defiant Alexandra residents whose illegal structures were built too close to the Gautrain lines and demolished by the security relocation and eviction services, the Red Ants, on Friday, vowed to rebuild their houses, in defiance of the authorities and a court order.

Most residents who were left without homes by the demolitions spent the afternoon yesterday salvaging what was left from their homes as the City of Joburg moved in to render assistance to the homeless people.

On Friday, the city council said an investigation into the demolitions was instituted to “determine who authorised the operation and whether it was conducted within the ambit of the law”. Yesterday, Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile visited the area and slammed the demolitions, labelling them reckless.

“Yes, we will demolish, but not in an inhumane manner like we have seen here. When we move people we will tell them where we are moving them, and we’ll have a process to explain how we are moving them,” he said.

Maile said officials from his office would work with the city council to ensure that a solution was found.

Tshepo Mohlale, divisional chief for disaster management at the City of Joburg, who was on the scene to assess the situation, said the city council did a needs analysis to establish what its priorities were.

“From last night, we had to distribute blankets because it was cold, we have also activated some of our stakeholders as well to also come on board for relief assistance. There are food parcels that are also going to be distributed shortly. Through housing and human settlements, we are also finalising temporary emergency arrangements so tonight we should have some tents erected,” he said.

Mohale said the list of the number of affected people was initially put at 74 families, but from yesterday morning the list has tripled.

“It’s important we verify this list, so that’s also going to delay the process.

“But we are doing our best to conclude as soon as possible,” he said.

Steven Chauke, one of the affected illegal residents, said the piece of land on which they built did not belong to anybody.

“They (Red Ants) just arrived and demolished and when we asked them whose land was this and where was the court order, they told us they were told they were going to demolish shacks.

“I spent more than R60000 of my own money, this is not government money,” he said.

Chauke’s neighbour is irate that her home was demolished while her belongings were inside.

“They must come and shoot us like they did in Marikana. We are going to build. We are sick and tired of being treated worse than dogs. They have won the first round, but never again.”

An elderly woman shouted: “We have to build again, we only want land, we don’t want any body’s money. I have no fear because I can see there is something suspicious.

“All the politicians who came, nobody knows who authorised the demolitions. It’s strange.”

The demolitions come months after #TotalShutDown protests gripped the township.

Sunday Independent