Category Archives: alexandra

M&G: Foreigners live in fear in Alex

Foreigners live in fear in Alex

Kwanele Sosibo

Residents of Alexandra’s RDP houses have reacted to menacing calls for foreigners to vacate RDP houses in the township within seven days with a mixture of fear and nonchalance.

Last weekend groups of residents, some co-ordinating their movements by phone, moved around extensions seven, nine and 10 handing out ­flyers and putting up posters warning foreigners living in RDP houses to vacate within seven days or risk “being pushed like animals or aliens”.

“The resident [sic] of Alexandra doesn’t want to revoke [presumably “revive” is meant] xenophobia, unless you give the cause to do so,” the flyers read.

Anecdotes of exactly when the leaflets surfaced differ. Some residents say youths distributing them last Friday also barricaded streets with burning tyres in extension 10, whereas others in the same section say they were being shoved under doors last Saturday evening.

It is not clear how organised the groups are, although some reports have mentioned that a group calling itself the Alexandra Bonafides has claimed responsibility.

The crude pamphlets specifically mention foreigners who own RDP houses as the targets. But a Zimbabwean resident told the Mail & Guardian that every foreigner appeared to be under fire, whether living in a house or renting an adjoining room. Several single-storey houses in the Far East Bank were flanked by smaller structures occupied by tenants.

The man, a resident of extension seven who asked not to be named, said he was given a flyer on Sunday evening before being coerced into an interrogation about his living situation. “I told them to speak to my landlord, as I am just a tenant here,” he said.

He told the M&G that he was playing it by ear, as he had done in 2008 when xenophobic violence engulfed the township. “There’s no cause for panic just yet, but what I’m afraid of is the possibility of physical violence.”

Census officials

Other residents said they were unsure how to regard the census officials, as they felt some people could use the census as a way of sourcing information about where foreigners are located.

“We aren’t against the census,” said Tswaleka Mathebula. “We just think that some people could hijack the process. Some people came here asking my daughter questions. When she told them her surname was Mathebula, they said: ‘Ja, we know you Mathebulas and Chikanes, you’re all from Maputo.’

“When I heard this, I came out and told them not to talk that shit here. We are from Giyani [in Limpopo province] and I’ve got all the papers for this house and every other document they could need. I didn’t even ask for this house, I got it because they were building a bridge across Stjwetla [an informal settlement in Alexandra], where I lived for 10 years.”

Mathebula, who lives in an RDP house with her three children and her husband, has two tenants in her yard, one from Zimbabwe.

She said that although some people had acquired their houses corruptly, the right approach was to take such grievances to the department of housing or the Alexandra Renewal Project. “They mustn’t come and tell us that every Shangaan-speaking person is from Maputo.”

Although most people who own RDP houses are South Africans, the housing policy does not preclude people with permanent-residence from qualifying for state housing.

The Gauteng minister for local government and housing, Humphrey Mmemezi, has called for people to provide evidence of the corruption they believe is running rampant in the Alexandra Renewal Project, which built the RDP houses.

“If we had evidence of that we would have prosecuted,” said the minister’s spokesperson, Motsamai Motlhaolwa. “The minister has been on record several times saying that people must come to us with evidence. Nobody must be forced to pay for an RDP house as they are for the poor.”

A South African man who rents to a Malawian tenant, Phetole Rakgwahla, said he would not protect his tenant if protests turn violent.

“Our brothers don’t have houses and we don’t know how foreigners got them,” Rakgwahla said, pointing to an RDP house. “The allocation process has gone completely haywire. We can live peacefully with one another but they mustn’t think they are here forever.”

Although the township was calm on Thursday, a community meeting was planned at the corner of 2nd Avenue and John Brand Street.

Daily Maverick: Alexandra threatens foreigners on housing – again

Alexandra threatens foreigners on housing – again

The last time the Alexandra township turned its anger on foreigners, necklacing was resurrected and thousands ended up in refugee camps around the country. So when blatant and unashamed intimidation of foreigners is the opening gambit in a battle for housing, we tend to worry. By GREG NICOLSON and PHILLIP DE WET.

The members of Alexandra Bonafides are very clear about their message: this is not about xenophobia, and not even about violence. On Wednesday we heard any number of variations on the theme of “we’re only protecting our rights” and “we don’t want trouble again like in 2008”. But it just so happens that the group believes many RDP houses in a new section of the township, still under construction in parts, are being occupied by foreigners – and if those foreigners don’t respond to words, well… Nobody will say it, but the nature of the threat is abundantly clear.  Continue reading

AVCC: Police Brutally Assault Peaceful Service Delivery Protestors in Alexandra: Call for Solidarity and Advice

Press Statement from the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee

Police Brutally Assault Peaceful Service Delivery Protestors in Alexandra: Call for Solidarity and Advice

We, the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee (AVCC), have been fighting for our right to move from our shacks to houses since 2002. We have engaged the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) and local ANC councilors, but they have failed to respond to our grievances. To push forward the struggle of the poor for our right to housing, we have been non-violently occupying empty RDP houses in extension 7. The government and the police have responded by brutally assaulting us in order to stop us from applying this method of non-violent direct action – the only method we have to force the government to heed to our demands for housing.

On the 7th August 2009, we moved from our shacks to the RDP houses and stayed overnight. The following morning, the police arrived on the scene, led by inspector Mathebula and Ndemanda, and Superintendent Morten, while we were busy calling our comrades together to allocate the empty houses. They asked us if we had documents to move in, and we replied “no, we have our c-forms that say we need houses”. They then handed us a court order from extension 9, dated the 22nd April 2008, which said that we needed to evacuate the premises. We called our advocate by cell phone, who then told the superintendent over the phone that the court order is faulty and that the people are not moving out and should be left alone. Superintendent Ndemanda refused to listen and threatened to shoot us if we did not disperse in five minutes. One of our leaders, Daphne Sehota, responded by asking our comrades to sit down peacefully and they did.

Superintendent Ndmanda then gave the order to the police to shoot rubber bullets at us, including elderly women, and they proceeded to shoot at us while we were seated. Our blood spilled onto the streets as nearly 30 people were injured by the bullets. 26 were arrested on charges of trespassing. We obtained J88’s for many of the victims of the police brutality and reported the incident to the police, as they must be held responsible for their actions, but our claims have been completely ignored. The 26 who were arrested spent four days in jail and have now also been released without ever appearing in court.

This is not the first time we have been assaulted by the police for fighting for our rights. 15 years into our so-called democracy, the government is using the same repressive tactics as the apartheid government used by arresting our leaders and brutally assaulting us. But, the response by the police will not stop us from fighting for our basic human rights. Not only are we being denied the houses that were promised to us by the government, but we are also being suppressed and brutalised by the police when we protest for these rights peacefully. We are calling for advice and support from any organisation or individual who feels we should be able to express ourselves freely without the fear of being attacked.

For more information or to assist, please contact:
Dephne – 078 520 5685
Or, Louis – 071 121 8120

Alexandra residents on the march for houses and jobs for all

Alexandra residents on the march for houses and jobs for all

On Wed 13th May 2009 at 830am Alexandra residents will march on the Johannesburg High Court, raising their demand for adequate housing and jobs for all. The march starts at Vogas house (corner Pritchard and Mooi streets). Frustrated by years of empty promises by the government for housing and jobs, many residents occupied the RDP houses in River Park, Alexandra. The Alexandra Renewal Project, a product of the ANC’s so-called broad based black economic empowerment, has not only failed to provide adequate housing for all in need in Alexandra, they have also been involved in corruption, selling houses to their friends which should have been given for free to backyarders and shack dwellers. The Alexandra Renewal Project is seeking a High court action to evict the residents from the RDP houses in River Park. The Alexandra Residents are on the march to oppose this. While several several community and worker organizations support the march, it is being spearheaded by Vukuzenzele and supported by the Landless People’s Movement.

The residents say that the world capitalist crisis is reflected in South Africa, in part by the government not building enough houses for the people, creating an artificial scarcity in housing so that people’s desperation ensures that the banks and construction monopolies can make super-profits. Thus the fight of the workers in North and South America against retrenchments and against homelessness, in the entire world against high food prices and low wages, against unemployment is part of the same fight locally for housing and jobs for all. Their fight is part of the same fight of workers locally for a living wage or for an end to retrenchment. The government’s commitment to monopoly capital is reflected by their appointment of billionaire capitalist, Tokyo Sexwale to the housing ministry. Mr Sexwale is the head of Mvelaphanda holdings which has substantial shares in construction giant Group 5. He is but one of several paper empowerment billionaires who are owned hand and foot by Anglo American and JP Morgan Chase. To add insult to injury the government has renamed the housing ministry to be that of ‘human settlement’- this shows that the government has now openly given up on housing the masses and will do their masters’ bidding to resettle the poor in shacks away from the city centres (social control).

The Alexandra residents are calling for Cosatu, Nactu and Fedusa to call urgent extended joint shopsteward council meetings to unite the housing struggles with the fight for a living wage, for lower food prices, for shorter working hours and an end to unemployment.

Forward to houses and jobs for all!

Disband the Alexandra Renewal Project!

Down with ‘broad-based’ self-enrichment! Expropriate the banks and construction companies and place them under working class control!

For further comment:

Freda Dlamini ph 0743520141

Thabo Modisane ph 0781297797