Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela speaks the Alexandra inquiry at the Human rights offices. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Cooperative Governance Minister Obed Bapela on Wednesday testified before the Alexandra inquiry where he revealed that an inter-ministerial team had been formed to deal with problems in the township.

The inquiry, which is being held at the Braamfontein offices of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), is seeking solutions after 80 illegal structures were demolished in Alexandra in April. The homes had been unlawfully built near Marlboro - too close to the Gautrain rail bridge. 

Various departments such as the Department of Community Safety, Department of Human Settlements and South African Police Service have already made submissions to the inquiry, which began on Monday.

The SAHRC's Gauteng Manager Buang Jones said interested parties could give oral and written submissions to the inquiry. 

"The aim of the inquiry is to find the causes behind the protests, establish if the City of Johannesburg has engaged meaningfully with the residents of Alexandra and monitor the situation of housing to ensure that urgent and emergency housing was given to the affected parties," explained Jones. 

Testifying at the inquiry, Bapela said his department had developed a "task team" that would not only deal with Alexandra but also tackle national service delivery issues.

"We have formed an inter-ministerial team which will consist of engagement from the Office of the Premier, Mayor's office as well as business and property owners of Alexandra," said Bapela. 

He also said pressing issues that needed to be fixed included land ownership disputes, mushrooming of informal settlements, social coherence, and internal issues. 

"The solution is to give title deeds to current occupants, partner with property owners and ensure basic derives are delivered." 

On Tuesday Gauteng human settlements MEC, Lebogang Maile, said under the Alexandra Renewal Project as many as 14,000 housing units had been constructed. He denied that the much talked about R1,3 billion for the project had been pilfered. 

He said the amount was simply a "projection" of costs and was never set aside as a separate fund. Maile said various departments were involved in the project and they had used their own resources.

African News Agency (ANA)