Johannesburg - Alexandra residents blockaded roads with burning tyres as they embarked on a fresh round of protests led by the #AlexShutdown movement on Wednesday morning.
Alex Shutdown Movement leader Sandile Mavundla said the residents were expected to march to Sandton City to hand over their memorandum to the City of Johannesburg, at the council’s region E offices.
Mavundla said the movement was forced to resort to protest action because the Inter Ministerial Task Team that was assigned to address their issues has not yet responded to them.
He said the residents were opposed to Mayor Herman Mashaba’s announcement that he would rebuild illegal structures that were demolished by the Red Ants in May.
On the streets of Alex, some of the marchers burned tyres as the march made its way towards Sandton.
As the small group marched towards Sandton, some of the protesters sang 'Noma besidubala siyaya e Sandton', which means even if they shoot us, we are going to Sandton.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mashaba said he would not engage Alexandra Shutdown Movement as it was a political ploy against him. He accused some councillors from the previous administration of being ring-leaders for the protest and of plundering funds allocated for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).
Mavundla said the residents needed to know where the money to rebuild the demolished structures would come.
Gauteng's Human Settlements and Urban Planning MEC Lebogang Maile called for calm.
“The right to protest is enjoyed by all communities, as enriched in the Constitution, and law enforcement agencies, especially police must not use excessive force to muzzle dissent,” Maile said.
“The Alexandra shutdown must be as peaceful as possible, and government services must not be disrupted, including those going to work should not be affected,” he added.
Maile said he planned to meet with community leaders of Alexandra to update them on the work done by the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on Alexandra.
He further urged the City of Johannesburg to work closely with the provincial government to speedily address the grievance of the community.
“Mayor Herman Mashaba must work with us to resolve all the issues raised by Alexandra community. We have a duty to serve our people irrespective of their party logos or political preferences during the last elections,” Maile said.
Johannesburg’s mayoral spokesperson, Olebogeng Molatlhwa said the mayor wanted to make a distinction between Alexandra residents who had genuine concerns and grievances, and those members who largely belonged to the #AlexShutdown Movement who wished to use grievances for political point-scoring.
“The reasons for this is that some of the members of #AlexShutDown movement are people who have been linked to the looting of the AlexandraRenewal Programme,” he added
Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the situation remained calm in the morning.
Minnaar said there were two groups of protesters that attempted to disrupt traffic on the 8th Avenue and Marlboro Drive, but they were dispersed quickly.
“The situation is calm and there was a heavy presence of law enforcement agencies deployed in the area since last night,” Minnaar said.
Meanwhile, taxi operators in Alexandra distanced themselves from claims that taxis would not be running on Wednesday. They urged passengers not to heed threats.