Crack­down on slum­lords

City, led by mayor Mashaba, iden­ti­fied 85 hi­jacked build­ings

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO

AMASSIVE crack­down is set to be un­leashed on slum­lords op­er­at­ing the 85 hi­jacked build­ings iden­ti­fied in the Joburg in­ner city.

The clean-up team, headed by Joburg mayor Her­man Mashaba, yes­ter­day con­firmed that it has a list of 85 build­ings that have been hi­jacked and would be gun­ning for the il­le­gal own­ers and oc­cu­pants fol­low­ing Fri­day’s “suc­cess­ful” raids on sev­eral flats in Doorn­fontein – which cul­mi­nated in 102 ar­rests.

This was the bold con­tention made by Lucky Sin­dane, a direc­tor in the city’s foren­sic and in­ves­ti­ga­tion ser­vices.

Sin­dane told The Star that suc­cess­ful raids on Doorn­fontein’s Davies and Rockey streets had em­bold­ened the City of Joburg to ac­cel­er­ate these “crime preven­tion op­er­a­tions” in or­der to win back the city’s prop­er­ties from slum­lords.

One al­leged prop­erty hi­jacker was ar­rested on Fri­day, Sin­dane added, while an­other fled the scene.

“We are com­ing for more of these slum­lords. We ar­rested one al­leged hi­jacker on Fri­day – and the rest will be fol­low­ing soon,” Sin­dane promised.

“They (the hi­jack­ers) can run but they can­not hide,” he warned.

Asked whether the city was in­ten­si­fy­ing these op­er­a­tions be­cause of the tragic deaths of seven peo­ple at the hi­jacked Cape York build­ing, Sin­dane was adamant that this wasn’t the case, say­ing Cape York was raided a week be­fore the deaths.

“Dur­ing the Cape York raid, which was done in con­junc­tion with the SAPS and the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs, we col­lected data of the peo­ple re­sid­ing there, in­clud­ing the num­ber of chil­dren, women and un­doc­u­mented per­sons,” he ex­plained.

“We were still wait­ing for the re­lo­ca­tion process to be con­cluded when the fire broke out.

“Re­mem­ber, the city has to pro­vide al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion when we evict peo­ple from these build­ings.”

Cape York, a build­ing on the cor­ner of Jeppe and Nugget streets, was en­gulfed by fire al­most two weeks ago af­ter its sec­ond floor caught fire.

It is a woe­fully di­lap­i­dated build­ing with al­most no run­ning wa­ter or elec­tric­ity, and is no­to­ri­ous for pros­ti­tu­tion and drug ped­lars.

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the build­ing, The Star saw the con­di­tions in which the res­i­dents live, in­clud­ing a nau­se­at­ing smell caused mainly by the lack of toi­lets.

Dur­ing Fri­day’s raids, plans for a for­eign na­tional’s Satur­day grand open­ing of a chicken restau­rant were halted af­ter the city dis­cov­ered the owner was to em­ploy un­doc­u­mented for­eign na­tion­als for his busi­ness.

Sin­dane said the restau­rant was on Rockey Street, which was not on the metro’s orig­i­nal plan for the op­er­a­tion.

“But when we went there, we

The hi­jack­ers can run, but they can­not hide. We’re com­ing

found this shop where peo­ple were get­ting ready to open the fol­low­ing day (Satur­day).

“All five of the em­ploy­ees were un­doc­u­mented Zim­bab­weans, and this guy was go­ing to run his busi­nesses us­ing them,” he said.

Sin­dane re­fused to re­veal the na­tion­al­ity of the restau­rant owner.

Mashaba said the restau­rant owner re­ceived a R20 000 fine from the po­lice – on top of hav­ing his grand open­ing can­celled.

Sin­dane said raids would be con­ducted al­most ev­ery week, but could not say where and when, “lest we alert the slum­lords that we are com­ing for them”.

Asked how he knew that Joburg had more than 85 hi­jacked prop­er­ties, Sin­dane said the city had re­ceived in­tel­li­gence from some of its sources and had done its own in­ves­ti­ga­tions, which de­ter­mined the num­ber of hi­jacked build­ings.

The is­sue of Joburg’s hi­jacked build­ings has re­ceived na­tional at­ten­tion, with Deputy Min­is­ter of Po­lice Bon­gani Mkongi on Fri­day com­mit­ting to work­ing with the City of Joburg in tack­ling what he deemed to be a “ma­jor scourge”.

In to­tal, 98 un­doc­u­mented peo­ple were ar­rested and de­tained at Jeppestown po­lice sta­tion, where im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials from Home Af­fairs would process them, Sin­dane said.

Two peo­ple were ar­rested for the il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of drugs, and an­other per­son was taken into cus­tody for the fraud­u­lent pos­ses­sion of an ac­cept­abil­ity cer­tifi­cate from the city’s en­vi­ron­men­tal depart­ment – a cer­tifi­cate that is given to traders as proof of the qual­ity of their stock.

PIC­TURES: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

WRONG PA­PER: Three men are ar­rested for not hav­ing the cor­rect doc­u­men­ta­tion dur­ing a raid in Doorn­fontein, Joburg on Fri­day.

CHECK­ING IT OUT: Po­lice of­fi­cers ver­ify the doc­u­ments of a man at In­dus­try House in Doorn­fontein dur­ing the raids on Fri­day.

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