Sat, 07 Dec 2019

Gauteng Human Settlements and Urban Planning MEC Lebogang Maile told the Alexandra inquiry on Tuesday that the government had spent far more than the budgeted R1.3bn to revamp the area.

The inquiry taking place in Braamfontein is being chaired by the South African Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Public Protector.

Maile couldn't give the exact amount spent, but claimed that the funds were adequately utilised by government.

Maile said some of the money was used to build more than 14 000 housing units, bridges, new sidewalks, improve sewerage systems, electricity and water systems, widen major roads, and capacitate emergency medical services in the township.

He said, prior to 1994, the infrastructure in Alexandra was meant to accommodate a population of 70 000. But as the population grew the democratic government decided to improve the area.

Initially, R1.3bn was earmarked for the project.

He said many people believed that the money had been stolen and called for those with information to come forward.

'I was not there and we were all not there'

Maile said that funding of the project was done by all three spheres of government - local, provincial and national.

"More than R1.3bn was spent. That money came from different departments. Far much more than R1.3bn was spent. The amount was anticipated to be spent, but more was spent.

"I was not there and we were all not there. But, we can be able to point at things that were built with this money. What I know is that things were done," he said.

READ | City of Joburg probes Alexandra Renewal Project

Maile said no allocation of funds were made.

"The figure comes as a result of a business plan to improve Alexandra. Every financial year, a sphere of government would allocate funds to the project. The R1.3bn figure was arrived at after cost finding.

"It was not actually funds allocated to the project. The province and the municipality were responsible for the implementation of the project," he said.

Regarding the current spate of land occupations in the township, Maile said the problem was not only in Alexandra, but throughout the province.

'We will evict them'

"Land invasion is a recurring problem in Gauteng. The problem is a big problem. We have to evict some of the people. In certain instances, we have court orders. The most important thing is to prevent them before they happen.

"For now, people that are there, we will evict them. We will check if there are people who are qualifying and maybe we could regularise them and leave them in those houses," said Maile.

"We are putting together a policy and we will make a public pronouncement on it. We need to know the location of our land and our properties. We have asked the national Department of Human Settlements to approach the courts to ask for a blanket court interdict, because police can't assist without a court order.

"We are planning and, once we finish, we will announce and implement our plans about land invasions," he said.

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