According to Dikgang Uhuru Moiloa — Gauteng’s MEC in the department of human settlements — as the situation stands in Alexandra township, a disaster is inevitable as there is “complete lawlessness and anarchy.”
Moiloa was speaking on Wednesday at the inquiry established to investigate the quality of life for people living in Alexandra, and the impact that their socio-economic conditions have on their human rights.
The inquiry is a collaboration between the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the office of the public protector.
The lawlessness and disorder is a result of different stakeholders in the community — residents, church leaders, businesspeople and law enforcement — not agreeing on how Alex should be developed, Moiloa said.
He further attributed the disorder in the century-old township to illegal migration saying because the law is not able to regulate who gets into the country, people end up illegally occupying areas that have been decanted ensuring that there is no progress.
Decanting is when people are temporarily and sometimes permanently moved from an area to another. In Alexandra, examples of decanting can be seen as early as 2001 where residents were moved to Diepsloot and Braamfischerville in Soweto to deal with congestion and alleviate pressure on resources such as water and electricity.
Aside from buy-in from all stakeholders in the community, Moiloa suggested that the processes around approving the use of unused and habitable areas around Alexandra — such as land in Frankenworld near Marlboro — be accelerated so that development can begin to ease pressure on the township.
“You cannot move people outside of their economic activities where they earn a livelihood,” Moiloa said.
The MEC added that Alex cannot be developed effectively until land issues — such as the handing over title deeds to rightful owners of land — are addressed because this will hamper the buy-in of residents.
Neville Chaney, the deputy director general of strategy and planning at the department of human settlements, reiterated that Alex is a ticking bomb especially when it comes to illegal occupations in hazardous areas such as on the banks of the Juskei river.
“If the Juskei floods then there is going to be a major loss of life because people live right on the banks of the river. We can’t allow loss of life because then we are all going to be found wanting.”
The hearing continues.