Desperate Alexandra township residents salvage what was left of their homes, residents whose illegal structures were demolished by workers of the Red Ants last week Friday. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Monday apologised to Alexandra residents whose houses were demolished, and then promised that the City of Joburg will immediately rebuild their houses. 

This as Mashaba visited Alexandra to map a way forward with residents after they were left destitute and homeless when the security and eviction agency the Red Ants, the police and Johannesburg metro police moved in to demolish at least 80 houses built on illegally occupied land in Stjwetla, Ward 109, on Thursday.

"Give me an opportunity on behalf of the City of Johannesburg to apologise profoundly for what happened. We apologise profoundly because what happened did not have my political directive, did not have the support of the multi-party government that I lead. 

"The multi-party government that I lead has got nothing to do with this. There are evil forces that decided to take this decision to come and destroy your houses. That is why I will apologise. I don't obviously think that the apology is enough." 

The demolition of houses has become a political football, with the African National Congress-led provincial government blaming the Democratic Alliance-led City of Joburg administration for carrying out the demolitions. 

But the City of Joburg said that the demolition, which sparked protests by residents, appeared to have been conducted without correct procedures being followed.

Mashaba said that the City must "make a plan" to work with the community to urgently understand how many families have been affected 

"The City must make a plan within the next few weeks. The City must rebuild your structures. I understand you are here illegally, but the City removed you illegally. Two wrongs do not make a right. Basically, as much as you occupied this land illegally, not because you are criminals but because you had no choice, the City came in and also committed a crime by removing your structures," Mashaba said. 

"Government now has a responsibility to rebuild within the next few days. Where they must find the money, they must make a plan. While they are doing that immediately I want electricity  This was not just a real and normal demolition. It had political implications behind it. You must understand that there is going to be people who will do everything possible to sabotage what I am promising you."

Mandisa Mashego, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chairperson in Gauteng, said that they were fully behind Mashaba and the rebuilding in Alexandra because it was "easy to negotiate" with his administration. 

African News Agency (ANA)