Alexandra protesters reject Joburg MMC Michael Sun

03 April 2019 - 14:02 By Iavan Pijoos
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Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, remained tense at lunchtime on Wednesday, with residents refusing to meet Johannesburg mayoral committee member responsible for public safety, Michael Sun, amid the #AlexTotal shutdown campaign.

Protesters from one of Johannesburg's oldest suburbs protested against a lack of service delivery along various roads earlier today, before gathering at the Marlboro Gautrain station. They barricaded the road leading to the station with rocks and burning tyres, demanding to speak to the director of Johannesburg region E's office.

Sun, who went there on Wednesday afternoon, said he was insulted by the residents.

"I don't understand why, if this is such a serious protest about service delivery, wouldn't the residents meet me?"

He was offended that one of the protest leaders said: "I run a spaza department, therefore I am not relevant to address the crowd."

"I think that is absolutely unacceptable, because we are here representing the city of Johannesburg," Sun said.  

"We are to deal with the issues on the ground and that's why I am here. We are here to serve the community and Alexandra has always been our priority."

Residents of Alexandra in Johannesburg blocked roads in various parts of the area on April 2 2019 over what they say is poor service delivery and a lack of development.

Mayor Herman Mashaba said in a statement he "deeply sympathises" with the challenges experienced by Alexandra residents.

"For decades, the people of Alex have continually been let down by previous administrations in the provision of housing and addressing migration into the community," he said.

Mashaba said since he came into office, the multi-party government had consistently sought to engage provincial and national government in securing funding for housing and the migration challenges in the city.

According to Mashaba, there was a need for more than 300,000 houses.

He said the city's attempts at engagement fell on deaf ears.

The ANC in the region has accused the metro police and Joburg Water of "not doing anything" to prevent illegal connections to municipal infrastructure.

Zone secretary Banele Sangcozi said the city had failed to cut the grass in the area and that Pikitup was not collecting waste in the township.

Residents said that crime was getting worse and that there were too many drugs in the township.

Mashaba said the city had recruited 1,500 new JMPD officers and was expecting them to complete their training soon.

"This will allow the city to increase visible policing in communities, especially our informal settlements. As a city, we will continue to do all we can to ensure that change is brought to our communities," he said.

The SA Human Rights Commission said its officials would visit the area on Wednesday afternoon to "get first-hand experience" of the situation.

"The commission will probe possible violations of the right to basic education (for the children who have been prevented from attending school); the right of access to adequate housing and the right to freedom and security of the person, particularly the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources should it be found that there were any injuries sustained during the protests."

The commission "would seek to engage" with residents to establish the main cause of the protests. It would also meet city and provincial departments of human settlements to establish their plans for housing and other socio-economic development initiatives.

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