Irate residents of Alexandra township near Sandton have suspended their service delivery protest, ahead of a mass meeting planned for Friday morning.
The suspension came after community leaders met and addressed residents who had begun blockading roads with burning tyres along 12th Avenue on Thursday.
The township remains on tenterhooks. Some streets can’t be accessed as they are still barricaded. Protesters set a few fires, preventing motorists from driving through, and many learners were seen loitering and playing in the morning instead of heading to school.
Residents, who started their protest early on Wednesday morning, are demanding that City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba address their grievances.
They are complaining about the illegal occupation of RDP houses by foreigners, lack of housing in the township, burst sewer pipes, lack of refuse removal and the mushrooming of illegal land occupation in the township, among others.
A mass meeting is expected to be held at the Alexandra Stadium on Friday at 10:00, at which residents hope to hand over a list of their demands to Mashaba.
Some residents have vowed that there will be further protests, should Mashaba not attend their meeting.
“We are going to turn Alexandra upside down. What happened today and Wednesday is nothing compared to what we are going to do tomorrow, if Mashaba doesn’t come. If he continues ignoring us, we can mobilise to ensure there are no elections taking place here,” said a man who refused to be identified.
“Alexandra is deteriorating under his watch. Mashaba must stop addressing us as residents of Alexandra through the media. We want him here tomorrow. This is not about politics as he claimed yesterday, it is about the development of Alexandra,” said community leader Thabang Lediga.
‘Mashaba himself must address our issues’
Ward councillor Tefo Raphadu echoed that Mashaba must present himself with immediate effect.
“The community wants answers. We are disappointed by Mashaba not coming here yesterday… he instead sent a representative but managed to address us through a radio station instead of coming here. The sooner he addresses us the better. Our demands are genuine and [we] need Mashaba as the mayor to address them.
“He must not blame the previous administration. He was voted to be our mayor and must deliver services to us. People are tired. Tomorrow we are having a public meeting and he must ensure he is here to address us. We reject his calls to meet with the leadership alone but [he] must address the entire community.
“The Alexandra shutdown continues until Mashaba comes to Alexandra to address our multiple issues,” concluded Raphadu.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele said 11 people have been arrested for public violence, and added police would continue monitoring the township until calm is restored.