The owner of Claridge Court building in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, has finally regained control of his property which had been hijacked for two decades.
City of Joburg’s MMC for Public Safety, Dr Mgcini Tshwaku, has welcomed the arrest of two alleged building hijackers who were in charge of the Claridge Court building.
The building’s “rightful owner”, David Phahladira was handed over his premises following an official operation including the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and the Hillbrow SAPS.
“On Friday, January 26 2024, the newly launched JMPD’s Tactical Reaction Unit conducted a joint operation with Hillbrow SAPS to successfully recover the hijacked Claridge Court building that is situated at corner Wolmaraans and Leyds Street in Hillbrow, inner city Johannesburg,” according to the Joburg Department of Public Safety.
“This privately-owned building had been hijacked by four individuals for over 20 years, and throughout these years, the rightful owner, Mr David Phahladira, with the assistance of his children made numerous attempts to recover his building.
On Friday, Joburg’s Group Forensics and Investigation Services unit, in partnership with Hillbrow SAPS and the JMPD Tactical Reaction Unit managed to arrest two of the hijackers, and to recover and handover the building back to its owner.
The other hijackers fled the scene when police units arrived.
Tshwaku, who has been vocal and active about the issue of hijacked buildings in the inner city, has called the recovery of Claridge Court “a landmark victory in the war against hijacked buildings” and a step in the right direction towards reclaiming the inner city of Joburg from lawlessness and the criminality of hijacking buildings.
“We are making progress as the city in terms of getting rid of hijackers and we will reclaim all hijacked buildings from these criminal syndicates,” said Tshwaku.
“There has been allegations that Vermaak Attorneys, and Jan Van De Bos are working with the Masters of the Gauteng High Court to get frivolous court orders and are getting preferential treatment where matters of court roll are concerned.
“The deeds office has also been fingered, as ownerships are changed without the knowledge of owners,” said Tshwaku.
He said the Claridge Court building has been secured, and a meeting will be held by the city and the owners of the building, to set up a management committee to manage and plan renovations on the building.
The two arrested individuals are set to appear before the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Last year, IOL reported that at least 77 people had died in an inferno at the hijacked and neglected Usindiso Building in Joburg CBD.
More than 30 residents of the dilapidated building were treated at different facilities in Gauteng.