Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says he sympathises with the protesting residents of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg. He says they have been neglected by the previous administrations for years.

Community members have been demonstrating since the early hours of Wednesday morning over the mushrooming of shacks and illegal structures in the area.

Businesses have been closed and learners have not been able to go to school.

Mashaba says housing and immigration are long-standing problems that both the provincial and national government have failed to address.

Johannesburg mayoral spokesperson Luyanda Mfeka says:”During a similar housing protest in Eldorado Park, Minister Sisulu and the provincial government came through and made a number of commitments.”

“One of the things the mayor said, even at that meeting was to speak about that commitment needs to be met by adequate financing that the city can then utilise.”

“And even at that space, no real commitments in terms of financing were made, the city can only do so much and it’s ultimately up to national and provincial government to provide the resources for dramatic and real changes to be made.”

Police commend protesters

Meanwhile police have commended the protesters, saying amid the chaos, debris and road closures, the protest has been well-controlled.

Leaders of the Alex-Total-Shutdown group have apologised to residents who have been stranded in the township due to the protest – but maintain that the shutdown is necessary.

Police are preventing the protesters from marching towards the N3 highway – leading towards the O.R Tambo International airport. This SAPS officer has commended organisers for their leadership.

“Let me start by thanking these guys for how they behaved. This is how a protest in this country should be. What you have done today, you have set a good example. I wish they earn from what you have done. You see the number of people here? But these guys are able to control them. It’s because they have people who are leading them. ”