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