People run at a protest as barricades burn during rainfall in Harare, Zimbabwe January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Charles Molele

An uneasy calm has returned to Alexandra Township north of Johannesburg following a week of violent protests over crime and lack of service delivery.

Gauteng premier David Makhura visited the area on Tuesday to receive a memorandum of demands from the #Shutdown committee, which organised the protests in the township.

Earlier in the week, police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse protesting crowds, who blockaded roads in the area with burning tyres, rocks and tree branches.

They were demanding better service delivery such as jobs and social amenities in the area.

After the meeting with community representatives, Makhura said that the provincial government will conduct an audit into the R1.3-billion Alexandra Renewal Project.

Makhura said the community of Alexandra were mostly concerned about housing, the increase in illegal structures and the lack of enforcement of bylaws.

He said he would also brief President Cyril Ramaphosa about the community’s concerns ahead of his visit to the township on Thursday morning.

“I am very happy that we have had these meetings. I will brief the president over the next few hours about the issues so when he comes here on Thursday, he will be able to speak clearly to some of these issues,” said Makhura.

Eunice Mkhatshwa, 66, said she cannot wait to share her housing frustrations with Ramaphosa on Thursday.

“I applied for a house in 1996 and I am still on the waiting list. I have no house but people who arrived in the township less than five years ago own houses. The President must address this issue and help us get houses,” said Mkhatshwa.

A street hawker, Petros Dladla aged 54, said Alexandra was a den of iniquity as a result of crime, illegal dumping and humongous rats roaming the streets.

“We live in hell. There is rubbish everywhere. Dustbins are left for days without being collected. There is no proper sanitation. Living here is a health hazard and you can imagine how it affects our health and those of our kids,” said Dladla.  

Meanwhile, City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Tuesday that he was willing to join Ramaphosa during his visit to the township.

“Alex is not just City of Johannesburg’s problem, we are a new government wherein a lot of promises have been made by the province and national government to people of Alexandra. So I have invited the president and the premier and I would be happy, if they would like me to join them, I am happy to join them,” Mashaba said. 

Last week, Mashaba said the reason why he hadn’t met with residents of Alexandra was because the City of Johannesburg has over 5-million people who all need his attention.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Mashaba said he was committed to visiting the area.

“We are going to Alexandra, we have a planned out an IDP session on 15 April,” said Mashaba.

The mayor said that he will first have a meeting with councillors in the area on Friday.

The SA Human Rights Commission will also be in Alexandra during his visit.

  • Additional reporting by agencies

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