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Alexandra needs more land for housing – community leader

A back wall of a house in Alexandra township collapsed and fell into the Jukskei River due to the continuous rainfall the province has been experiencing. Disaster management were on site to evaluate the extent of the damage. Families who live along the river banks are left traumatised as more cracks have started appearing, showing that their homes are not safe and might soon end up in the river. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

A back wall of a house in Alexandra township collapsed and fell into the Jukskei River due to the continuous rainfall the province has been experiencing. Disaster management were on site to evaluate the extent of the damage. Families who live along the river banks are left traumatised as more cracks have started appearing, showing that their homes are not safe and might soon end up in the river. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 30, 2021

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A back wall of a house in Alexandra township collapsed and fell into the Jukskei River due to the continuous rainfall the province has been experiencing. Disaster management were on site to evaluate the extent of the damage. Families who live along the river banks are left traumatised as more cracks have started appearing, showing that their homes are not safe and might soon end up in the river. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Living conditions in Alexandra have come under scrutiny after the heavy rainfall of late has caused havoc in the township.

Following the evacuation of residents living near the Jukskei River due to flooding, housing in the overcrowded township has come under scrutiny by community leaders such as Alexandra philanthropist and activist Linda Twala.

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Twala said that the people of Alexandra needed more land since residents are crammed in a small area. This, while those in the leafy areas of Sandton live in spacious dwellings in the well-serviced suburb.

“We need Frankenwald which was left as a gift by the late Mr Alfred Beit. It has been standing empty for years. With proper development and educational facilities, (it can be) a state of the art retirement village for our senior citizens who marched in 1954 and 1956 during the Azikhwelwa strike,” Twala said.

Twala said places like Vezunwayo that have been invaded were actually meant to be broken down from block to block beginning at 1st Avenue. It was supposed to serve as temporary housing until a more permanent housing project had been completed.

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“This matter can only be solved if we do away with corruption and bring back God, serious prayer and support from the government, private sector and with the involvement of the community.

“This matter can only truly be solved if Alexandra gets land. This will also open up many employment opportunities for our heavily unemployed population,” Twala said.

He also appealed to officials to put community members first and said that the in-fighting of leaders was hurting people on the ground.

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Twala added that this was not the legacy left by forefathers, such as his grandfather John Hey Ka-Nxele Mbanjwa, the first homeowner in Alexandra, and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would first moved to Alexandra from the Eastern Cape when he was 22.

“I implore officials to remember us and keep to their word. I appeal to the outside world, and any friends of Alexandra to please come to our rescue. Alexandra needs your help. The community of Alexandra is ready to assist with more than 1 million hands,” added Twala.

In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged housing to the people of Alexandra during campaigning season, promising that the project to renew the township would be implemented.

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In July, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) told Gauteng Premier David Makhura to request Ramaphosa to launch a second investigation into the controversial R2.2 billion Alexandra renewal project.

Launched in 2001 by President Thabo Mbeki, the SAHRC and Mkhwebane’s office found that between 2001 and 2013, R2.21bn was spent on the project with the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements responsible for nearly R1.4bn and City funding amounting too R444 million.

The municipal infrastructure grant contributed R173m, with another R109m from the Gauteng Department of Transport and a further R88m by the Human Settlements Fund between 2001 and 2005.

Department of Housing communications official, Neo Goba, told The Star that the flood line affecting the area around the Jukskei River is known. The city, through the Alexandra Renewal Project, relocated all families whose structures were in the area prone to flooding.

“A couple of years subsequent to the relocation of the affected families, the remaining families who were not affected by the flood line started building illegally into the cleared area, despite notices served not to continue with construction,” said Goba.

Goba urged people to understand that all construction needs to be approved by the city’s Building Control to ensure that residents are building according to building standards and within suitable development areas.

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