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Johannesburg - A total of 102 people were arrested on Friday night when the City of Johannesburg conducted a crime prevention operation in several hijacked properties along Davies Street in Doornfontein, the city said.

"I am also pleased to announce that one alleged property hijacker was arrested during the operation. Another property hijacker fled the scene. However, we will pursue the matter together with the South African Police Service (SAPS)," Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Saturday.

Hijacked buildings were a major problem in the inner city, with people living in deplorable conditions and being abused by slumlords.

"I pleased by the police ministry’s acknowledgement of the serious challenge posed by hijacked buildings in the inner city and their clear commitment to work together with the city to tackle this problem. This follows comments made by the Deputy Minister of Police Mr Bongani Mkongi [on Friday]," Mashaba said.

Friday night’s operation was led by the city’s group forensic and investigation services department in conjunction with the SAPS, the home affairs department, Johannesburg metropolitan police department (JMPD), emergency management services (EMS), and the city’s environmental health, citizen relationship and urban management, and social development departments.

During the operation, two people were arrested for the illegal possession of drugs. Several dangerous weapons, including seven knives, were confiscated. 

A total of 98 undocumented persons were arrested as part of the operation and detained at the Jeppestown police station. 

Immigration officers from the home affairs department would now process those who were detained.

One shop owner was also served with a R20 000 fine by the SAPS for employing undocumented persons, Mashaba said.

"Several shops along Rocky Street were inspected and it was discovered that some of the shops were selling expired goods. Fines for secondhand goods and other environmental health contraventions were issued. Four warning were issued by EMS," he said.

One person was also arrested for the possession of a fraudulent City of Johannesburg certificate of acceptability, purported to have been issued by the city's environmental health department.

"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. 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."

"I would like to thank all the role players involved in [Friday] night’s successful operation, especially the SAPS and home affairs for their continued support," Mashaba said.

African News Agency