File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - At least 31 people have been arrested in Johannesburg inner city during a crime prevention operation at four notorious hijacked and bad property buildings.

City of Joburg said in a statement on Friday that a total of 30 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested, while one suspect was arrested for illegal posssession of drugs. The properties that were targeted during the operation include Miltherd Court, 211 and 213 Commissioner Street, and 1168 City and Surburban.

The arrested suspects were detained at the Johannesburg Central Police Station and will be appearing in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Friday.

The operation was led by the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services 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 Environmental Health, Citizen Relationship and Urban Management and Social Development departments.
Hijacked properties is one of the challenges the Metro is faced with in the city due to mass influx and overpopulation, but executive mayor Herman Mashaba has vowed to address the challenge. About 164 buildings are confirmed as hijacked in the city.
On Wednesday, 43 year-old building hijacking kingpin, Sinethemba Mkhumbuzi, and his 58-year-old accomplice, Kenneth Ntila, were sentenced to eight years and 15 years imprisonment respectively for fraud relating to the hijacking of Angus Mansions in the inner city.

The City said 11 hijacked properties have been handed back to their rightful owners, while a further three property hijackers have been arrested in the last three weeks.  
"The City will not leave any stone unturned when dealing with criminal activities within its area of jurisdiction and we will continue to intensify the raids at these bad and hijacked properties with the assistance of Saps and other law enforcement agencies," Mashaba said.
"Criminals must know that they might run but there is no place for them to hide in Johannesburg.  It is essential that we bring back the rule of law in our City and take it back from the criminal elements such as landlords who take advantage of desperate people and house them under deplorable conditions."