The Gauteng Hawks, the Joburg metro police department, the council’s health and safety officials and Home Affairs officials have pounced on an allegedly hijacked building in Delvers Street in the CBD, surrounding it and arresting six alleged hijackers in their shops.
Another 14 ran away when they saw the police vehicles arriving.
The building, Delvers Square, on the corner of Delvers and Kerk streets, is owned by Tewodros “Teddy” Teferi, who purchased the building from the Affordable Housing Company in 2010.
Teferi, an Ethiopian, placed fellow Ethiopian traders into the ground-floor shops.
“They turned on me… A year ago they stopped paying me rent, formed a committee of 20 and started collecting the rent,” he said.
When Teferi sent his family members to collect rent, the tenants refused them access to the building and assaulted them.
His brother was throttled and almost killed. A docket of attempted murder has been opened.
During the raid, suspects were arrested for this charge as well.
Teferi has photos of his injured brother with red marks around his neck where he said they had tried to choke him.
His leg was broken in the attack.
Teferi said he had obtained two eviction orders, but the alleged hijackers hired an attorney who fought the evictions, “playing games to stall giving me the money”.
He says the alleged hijackers had collected about R6.5 million in rentals in just more than a year.
Another time he had got the sheriff to conduct the eviction, but the tenants obtained an urgent after-hours interdict.
Furthermore, they had invaded the rest of the building, setting fire to two storeys, he said.
His top-floor office had been burgled and his furniture destroyed.
Teferi, who has been living in Joburg for 15 years, said he had a passion for the city centre. “I bought the building because I want to renovate it and turn it into a successful trading centre.
“The building is currently not compliant to fire and health standards and I would like to fix it up into a proper working environment,” he said.
In desperation, he had approached the Gauteng Hawks, who conducted the raid on Thursday.
Teferi padlocked all the shops on the ground floor of the building and arranged for security to be in place to prevent the occupiers from returning.
“Only six were arrested, the others ran away when they saw the police arrive, but I know where they live and they will be caught,” he said. - The Star