Inside troubled Alexandra: Overcrowding, sewerage blockages and vandalism

Service delivery in troubled Alexandra was hampered by overcrowding, according to Johannesburg City manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni.

Lukhwareni was speaking at a South African Human Rights Commission inquiry into Alexandra in Johannesburg on Thursday.

He said the mushrooming of illegal structures made it difficult for City employees to provide services in the area.

"Alexandra is reaching a point where services are not as easy as in other areas.

"Alexandra is a congested area. Our fire engines need broader roads to respond to fire outbreaks."

Lukhwareni added that there were 1 200 chemical toilets in the area. One toilet serves 11 households.

"We service those toilets twice a week minimum. We have a unique methodology. 

"We also have issues of water management and have instituted waste water strategies. We have about R86m to address the matter on a multi-year project," he said.


Lukhwareni told the inquiry that this financial year, they have dealt with 1 300 sewerage blockages in Alexandra. 

The municipality has also attended to 22 water burst complaints within 24 hours. He complained about vandalism of municipal properties and the incorrect use of sewerage systems.

Lukhwareni claimed that in one instance, residents deliberately blocked a drain to use sewerage water to irrigate their vegetable gardens.

"If Alexandra was properly demarcated, it would be easy to reach all points (of complaints). We have areas where people have built structures on top of pipe networks. 

READ: Ministerial talks afoot about Alex renewal following shutdown

"On waste removals, Alexandra receives services every day of the week. Alexandra is a problematic area with illegal dumpings," he said.

SAHRC provincial chairperson in Gauteng, Buang Jones, said the inquiry was formed following an almost week-long shutdown. Jones said the inquiry had the right to summon every official who had direct substantial implications.

"We want the participation of everybody. Those implicated will be summoned to testify. We are specifically looking at service delivery in Alexandra. We want to gather all meaningful information on what should be done in Alexandra to improve lives," said Jones.

Claims rubbished

Two weeks ago, residents protested, demanding that City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba addresses their demands. Senior government officials, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, later visited the township after Mashaba said he would visit the area later.

Mashaba eventually held a meeting on Monday but residents heckled and booed him.

ALSO READ: Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba leaves stage as Alex residents boo him

An ANC ward councillor in Alexandra rubbished Lukhwareni's presentation.

Adolf Marema accused him of presenting a false report to the SAHRC.

"Waste removal trucks don't come daily as he claimed. Filth is everywhere. There are 102 families residing in one yard and [he] didn't raise that. Perhaps he was talking about Alexandra that is somewhere else," said Marema.

He claimed that land invasions took place daily and in one instance, they were forced to take action after people erected shacks inside a school yard.

"Service delivery is deteriorating in Alexandra. Sewage is flowing daily into the Jukskei River. In Setjwetla alone, there are seven squatter camps. We have more that 20 informal settlements in Alexandra. So many lies have been said about Alexandra, " Marema said.

The inquiry continues on May 13.

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