City of Johannesburg Manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni has rejected claims that local government has neglected the people of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg. He voiced his argument during a joint inquiry by the Human Rights Commission and Public Protector prompted by the pre-election service delivery protests in the township in April.

The investigation will also look into whether there was maladministration, abuse of power, corruption or improper conduct during the Alex Renewal Project. Director General from Premier’s Office was a no show.

From rubbish pile-up and raw sewerage spillage, to graves sinking into the sewage summed up by an overwhelming stench permeating the air in the embattled Alex.

Occupying the hot seat, Lukhwareni flanked by colleagues, faced tough questions. Asked how long it will take to fix the sewerage issue in Alex, he says they missed days due to the protests.

“During shutdown, we missed a lot of days to provide services, so we had to do catch-up. Our schedule is 30 days to clean the graves, we’re there and we’re cleaning the area.”

Failure of service delivery is not new in the area. Alex Fitzgerald, Legal officer of the SAHRC, questioned why a block of flats was built on the Juskei river bank without intervention. Lukhwareni attributed this to limited resources.

“More could be done, but we’re living in a world of limited resources. It’s not really practical that we have to camp in these areas.”

The City of Johannesburg was probed on which actions were taken to address the Alex Renewal Project fund scandal. Senior Administrator of the City, Thabiso Maesela, says that they are still in the process of collecting information.

“There’s a process underway to collect the information and once it has been completed, we’ll be able to share the details.”

In a dramatic turn of events, there was a no show by the Director General from Premier’s office yet again. The SAHRC says that no reason was given for absenteeism.

Thandeka Mbassa from COGTA Gauteng says that the DG could not come due to a family bereavement.

Both COGTA and Human Settlements will face the tough questions on Wednesday.