These were the assertions of Joburg opposition parties, reacting to the commotion in Unaville, Lenasia, resulting from a city-sanctioned homes demolition.
This comes as mayor Herman Mashaba announced an “independent task team” on Sunday to investigate claims of “political interference behind recent illegal invasions within the city” - including circumstances that led to the two deaths.
On Friday, Red Ants guards - with the SAPS and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department members - demolished “illegal structures” near the Golden Highway, acting on a court order obtained by the city in July.
Clashes broke out, the end result of which was that scores of people were left injured, homeless and destitute.
Resident Nonkululeko Mlotshwa, whose home was also destroyed, bemoaned the lack of information given by the city prior to demolishing her home.
“The only thing that happened was that traffic cops came here a week or two ago and told us not to erect so close to the highway. The next thing we know, the Red Ants arrived and started shooting,” Mlotshwa said, questioning the shooting of “innocent people”.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele confirmed to The Star that two people had been killed in the running battles.
Mashaba expressed sadness at the deaths and injuries, and stated that the Red Ants had been hired by the Sheriff of the Court.
However, the EFF slammed the mayor for Friday’s action and for the task team, with its deputy secretary, Kgabo Hlonyana, saying the city had “undermined” last year’s council resolution not to conduct land evictions.
“This (task team) is just one of the playful activities of the mayor and his people, who have chosen to get into this game. We took a resolution in council last year that the city would not conduct land evictions.
“Now we have a situation where the city goes and obtains a court order and evicts people on the land belonging to the city, which has resulted in unnecessary loss of life,” Hlonyana said.
Jolidee Matongo, the regional ANC’s spokesperson, said the resolution was coming back “to bite” the DA-led administration, saying the DA wanted to appease the EFF by supporting Red Berets’ “unsustainable” motion on land evictions.
“The ANC indicated that it was an anomaly for council to take such a resolution that people must not be evicted. This is because council has a responsibility to act when wrong things are done,” Matongo said.
“But the DA wanted the EFF’s support, as always, and voted with the EFF to pass that resolution.”
However, mayoral spokesperson Luyanda Mfeka said the city was aware of the council resolution, and supported it.
Mfeka said people had not been evicted but “demolitions were done on unoccupied illegal structures”.
Mashaba said a task team would be set up under General Shadrack Sibiya’s Group Forensic Investigation Department, the terms of reference to be announced “within the next 48 hours”. “I have also instructed that the city suspend any and all pending eviction orders unless approved by myself.”