A man walks with a car tyre as he barricades the street during a service delivery protest in Alexandra township in the north of Johannesburg

Johannesburg - A protest on Wednesday in Johannesburg's Alexandra township over poor service delivery was under control, the city's metro police department said.

Alexandra residents, angry that the city council had not developed the area or clamped down on illegal structures, barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres, starting early in the morning. 

The blockades had since been moved aside, with traffic now flowing, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said.

"The situation in Alexandra is under control. Two protesters have been arrested and the rest have been dispersed and a huge contingent of officers has been deployed since 3 am this morning" he said.

Reports said community members were accusing the city of Johannesburg of failing to stop the rapid growth of illegal structures and had vowed to press on with the protest until they heard from DA mayor Herman Mashaba.

"I have noted protests taking place in Alexandra as they relate to housing challenges and illegal occupation of land within the community. I deeply sympathise with the challenges experienced by the residents of Alex," Mashaba said in a statement. 

He said the residents had been let down by the previous ANC administration, who had promised infrastructure and housing at the township.   

"This commitment was made without any financing and consolidated strategic plan for meeting the commitment – it was nothing more than an empty ANC promise. This is not only true for the people of Alex but the city as a whole. Since coming into office, the multi-party government has consistently sought to engage province and national government in securing funding that can be used to not only adequately meet our housing demands within the City – with a need of over 300 000 units -  to addressing the massive migration challenges faced by the City," Mashaba said.

"On both counts, the City’s attempts at engagement have fallen on deaf ears. As the new administration, we are working to progressively meet the housing demand and development needs of our communities within our available resources and bring Diphetogo to communities."

Mashaba said he was aware of lawlessness in the community, but policing was the domain of the ANC controlled provincial and national government.

"I have also noted the ANC’s concern regarding the alleged sale of illegal occupied stands within the community,  a matter for serious concern for the city as well. However, it is ironic that this would be a concern for the ANC given that we have witnessed the ANC’s very own former MMC for housing, Dan Bovu, being implicated in this type of illegal activity. This case related to the alleged illegal sale of state land to vulnerable people within our society," said Mashaba. 

"This matter is one which the ANC needs to answer for. As a city, we will continue to do all we can to ensure that change is brought to our communities."

African News Agency (ANA)