Johannesburg - A total of 32 undocumented people were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a crime prevention operation at two hijacked properties in Morningside Manor, Sandton, Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said.
Mashaba said two properties were targeted including No 18 Gary Avenue where 11 undocumented people were arrested and that 21 were arrested at 122 Kelvin Drive.
He said the suspects are expected to appear in court on Wednesday after immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs had processed them to ascertain relevant information.
The arrests were made during an operation led by the City's group forensic and investigation services unit in conjunction with the South African Police Service (SAPS), Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), Department of Home Affairs and the local residents association.
"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.
"About 832 properties are confirmed to be hijacked in Johannesburg. 34 properties that were previously in the hands of hijackers have been handed back to the rightful owners. The Residents Association has undertaken to provide security to both properties. I want to see rundown buildings turned into quality low-cost housing for our residents and affordable rental spaces for small businesses."
Mashaba reiterated his commitment to stopping "the rot" in the inner city and making it a prosperous and inclusive place for our people to live work and play.
Meanwhile, Mashaba said on Monday that he had written to the new Minister of Home Affairs, Siyabonga Cwele, to address concerns raised by informal traders within the city, including the regulation and the disproportionate number of undocumented people working within the sector.
Mashaba said the disproportionate number of undocumented people posed a major challenge to efforts to restore the rule of law in the City as it undermined the requirements placed on residents to comply with the law.
"While the City has recently embarked on a campaign to assist informal traders with by-law and environmental health compliance, ultimately, regulation of undocumented persons rests on the Department of Home Affairs," Mashaba said.
"[This] has the effect of giving undocumented persons a competitive advantage over law-abiding residents as the latter are held to account for non-compliance, which increases their relative cost of doing business. This is forcing law-abiding citizens out of the market. In the instance of regulating affairs for undocumented persons, the City is not in a position to ensure that they are in possession of the requisite documentation."
African News Agency (ANA)