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JHB city manager takes responsibility for Alex home demolitions

Ndivhoniswa Lukhwareni emphasised that he would give the panel evidence to prove that the houses were either unoccupied or not yet completed.

A dismantled shack. Picture: @REDANTS_CT/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg city manager Ndivhoniswa Lukhwareni said on Wednesday he took full responsibility for the demolition of homes in Alexandra last week.

Lukhwareni was giving evidence at the South African Human Rights Commission inquiry looking into problems in Alexandra.

Last Friday, the Red Ants demolished 80 illegally built houses in the area, leaving hundreds homeless.

However, Lukhwareni said the city did obtain a court order.

Asked whether officials had discussed the demolitions with residents, he said the city had only targeted incomplete structures.

He emphasised that he would give the panel evidence to prove that the houses were either unoccupied or still under construction.

Lukhwareni said Mayor Herman Mashaba was out of the country at the time, and as the accounting officer he had to act on the court order.

WHO AUTHORISED ALEX DEMOLITIONS?

Lukhwareni said an investigation had been launched to determine who exactly authorised the demolition of properties in Alexandra.

The city manager later moved to clarify that while he took responsibility for last week's events he had not ordered the demolitions.

“There are some words that are used in local government that sound a bit different from common language. When I say I’m accountable, I’m saying my title is that of an accounting officer.”

He insisted that he never authorised the action.

“And so that happened and plans were hatched and that is what we want to establish; who decided on what and what safeguard did they have,” he said.