Speaking on the second day of the breakaway session of the City’s Group Forensics and Investigation Services (GFIS) in Centurion, Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba (pictured) said he needed urgent action and results in relation to the fight against building hijackings in the Johannesburg inner city and surrounding areas.
Mayor Mashaba’s call comes after seven people were killed when Cape York (Insert), a dilapidated hijacked building at the corner of Jeppe and Nugget streets in the inner city, caught alight on Wednesday July 5.
The Mayor instructed members of the unit, led by General Shadrack Sibiya, to increase the frequency of raids on hijacked buildings, where people live in inhumane conditions. “We should raid these buildings every week and make sure we safeguard the lives of our people. It is important to act with speed. I want results and your unit should help me root out corruption,” the Mayor told members of the unit. He said the City faced a housing backlog estimated at more than 300 000 units. He said with the City providing housing at an average rate of only 3 500 units a year, there were limited opportunities to move people out of these buildings.
Speaking on the sidelines of the breakaway session earlier, General Sibiya said his unit had identified and verified 85 problematic buildings in the city. He said more raids would be conducted in the coming weeks to rid the city of the criminals who had taken over the buildings. He said his corruption-busting unit, which has also been charged with the tackling of bad buildings, was already hard at work to dismantle criminal syndicates behind the building hijackings. He said the unit had so far uncovered a highly connected and sophisticated syndicate of criminals who had “compromised state departments to further their objectives”.
“We are dealing with a corrupt network that involves people in the Deeds Office, the Department of Home Affairs, etc.
The network involves even our own officials, who illegally issue clearance certificates to members if the syndicates. We will work tirelessly to break this network and regain control of the city and its buildings,” said Sibiya.
Mayor Mashaba is in the coming weeks expected to announce further plans to deal with abandoned and hijacked buildings.