/ 6 June 2019

Maile launches probe into Mashaba’s ‘stolen’ Alex renewal project files claim

Gauteng MEC for human settlement
Gauteng MEC for human settlement, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Lebogang Maile. (Sydney Seshibedi/The Times/Gallo Images)

An investigation has been initiated to “ascertain the authenticity of the claims” that a Gauteng provincial government member unlawfully accessed files on the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) which were stored in a City of Johannesburg office.

This is according to a statement released on Thursday by Gauteng MEC for human settlement, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Lebogang Maile.

“The law enforcement agencies, especially the police, will have to be brought on board regarding this matter. Anyone found to have acted inappropriately, should face the full might of the law,” Maile said.

The allegations of unlawful access were made by Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, in a statement released on Wednesday. In it he says he has “learnt with disbelief” that a department of human settlements official accessed offices containing files pertaining to the renewal project.

The renewal project recently came under the spotlight following #TotalShutdown protests which erupted in Alexandra township in April. The renewal project was launched by the government in 2001, with the aim of changing infrastructure, the economy and the social environment of the township.

A number of organisations from local, provincial and national government were involved as well as the private sector, non-governmental organisations and community-based groups.

But, according to residents, the money from the project cannot be accounted for because nothing has been done to develop the century-old township.

The ARP is now the subject of an inquiry into the socio-economic conditions in Alexandra . It was established by the South African Human Rights Commission and the office of the public protector.

In addition to Premier David Makhura, the City of Johannesburg has also initiated an investigation into the project and how the allocated budget was spent.

In his statement, Mashaba said that the city’s group forensics unit “established that a file of documentation, pertaining to the ARP, is missing from the locked offices in which the files were being safely stored.”

He further proceeded to detail that the forensics unit has a recorded interview with the said government official where he admits that he “procured” a key to the offices and gained access to the offices. According to Mashaba, the city had not granted the official permission to do so.

“It is worth noting that this official was formerly employed by the City of Johannesburg within the ARP project. It is outrageous that such an act could have taken place… at a time when the City has launched a full-scale forensic investigation into the ARP, for which we can confirm evidence is now missing, this must be viewed in the most cynical light,” Mashaba said.

Maile concluded his statement by expressing “deep worry” that the ARP “is being politicised, whilst our communities expect services and improvements in their livelihoods.”