The conveners of the Alexandra Total Shutdown movement have opened a case of contempt of court against City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Wednesday.
They said Mashaba, who had promised to rebuild the 80 demolished illegal structures built along the Juskei River, was going against a 2016 court order, which had instructed that they be removed.
“The mayor is breaking the law by promising to rebuild the structures, hence we are here to say the law must take its course,” shutdown spokesperson Bobby Solomons said.
Solomons added that by opening a case they were preventing the City from “engaging in lawlessness” and were setting a precedent that individuals, who were building structures illegally, do not get an idea that if they build and have their structures demolished, the City would rebuild them.
As early as 05:00, streets were barricaded by burning tyres and rubble. Commuters were also removed from minibus taxis while on their way to work as residents geared up to take to the streets of Sandton.
About 100 of them, some clad in black T-shirts emblazoned with #TotalShutDownAlex@work, marched to the city’s Region E offices on Daisey Street in Sandton, where they were met by armed officers from the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) as well as SA Police Service.
No representative was available to address the protesters, which prompted them to make their way back to the Alexandra police station to open the case against Mashaba.
The protest was later suspended until further notice and those in attendance dispersed after burning tyres at the police station’s entrance.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele confirmed a case was opened, and that police would investigate.
He said while the protest had been suspended, police would continue to monitor the suburb for any flare-ups and other illegal activities.
Mashaba could not be reached for comment.
His spokesperson, Luyanda Mfeka, told News24 the City would not comment and stands by Mashaba’s sentiments voiced in a statement on Tuesday.
Mashaba had said he would not be engaging with the shutdown movement as their interests were not those of the legitimate residents of Alexandra.
“Our multiparty government is determined to deliver change in Alexandra and throughout the City of Johannesburg to those forgotten by our predecessors. In light of the enormous backlogs inherited, this change cannot all be achieved, across the City, in the time we have been in office.”
He said while the multiparty government believed fundamentally in the right to protest and raise grievances, the Alexandra shutdown movement should not be mistaken for being anything other than a “politically sponsored vehicle to protect the corrupt interests of those who have profited from the looting of the Alexandra Renewal Project“.