23 foreign nationals arrested in raid on hijacked Joburg inner city buildings
Twenty-three undocumented foreign nationals were arrested during a raid by the City of Johannesburg on two hijacked buildings in the inner city on Friday night.
The crime prevention operation was carried out on Vannin Court and Florence House‚ which Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba described as two well-known hijacked buildings.
The operation was led by the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service Unit in conjunction with the South African Police Service (SAPS)‚ Department of Home Affairs‚ Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD)‚ Emergency Management Services (EMS) and the City’s Health and Social Development Departments. “Hijacked buildings are a major problem in our inner city‚ with our people living in deplorable conditions and being abused by slumlords who extort money from them.
“At Vannin Court‚ a City of Joburg owned building‚ it was found that the occupiers are renting beds in the units from ‘owners’ for amounts ranging from R250 to R1‚200 per person‚” Mashaba said in a statement on Saturday. He said a total of 23 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested during the operation and detained at the Hillbrow Police Station. Immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs would now process those who were arrested to ascertain relevant information‚ he said. Several shops nearby Vannin Court were also inspected and discovered to be selling expired goods.
“The goods were confiscated by JMPD and the shop owners were issued with fines‚” Mashaba said. He added that crime had spiralled out of control in the area‚ with muggings and violent crime becoming common place. What made matters worse was the fact that criminals run into these buildings and hide when being pursued by the police.
“The operation focused on collecting data on the occupants living in the buildings‚ including sex‚ age and employment status. Before we are able to obtain an eviction order‚ it is vital that we profile the occupants living in the building and ensure that we are able to find alternative accommodation for them.
“A consolidated report is currently being compiled by the relevant departments and will include all relevant information on the occupants of the buildings.
“Once we are able to find alternative accommodation for the occupants‚ we will be able to close off the buildings and ensure that they are redeveloped into low cost affordable housing for our people‚” Mashaba stated. He added: “If we are going to turn around the decay of our inner city‚ it is vital that the rule of law is respected. I see the revitalisation of the inner city as key to ensuring economic growth and job creation in Joburg.
“I want to see rundown buildings turned into quality low cost housing for our residents and affordable rental spaces for small businesses. “There has been a historic failure in our City to deal with hijacked buildings. We are committed to ensuring that we stop the rot in our inner city and make it a prosperous and inclusive place for our people to live work and play.”