‘The rats in those buildings are so fat’: Acting Joburg mayor Kenny Kunene vows to clear out hijacked buildings

Acting mayor of the City of Joburg Kenny Kunene. File Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Acting mayor of the City of Joburg Kenny Kunene. File Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published May 15, 2023


Pretoria - Acting mayor of Johannesburg Kenny Kunene will lead interventions by the city today to regain control over several hijacked buildings that are unsafe for habitation and are “stealing” utilities like electricity.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Kunene said the City of Joburg was also concerned that criminals often used the hijacked buildings as hideouts.

“Once you hijack a building, you have committed a crime. The word ‘hijack’ means you have occupied that building illegally. When you are now being removed, you want to use the law, to say there is a process of removing people,” he said.

“Those buildings have got traps, booby traps inside them. As you are walking, there are drains that you cannot even see. It’s so dark in those buildings.

“When you look at the rats, the rats are so fat all over. These are the types of rats that when a baby is lying on the bed, they will be eating on the torso of the baby. The situation is not just unsafe but very much unhealthy.”

The Patriotic Alliance deputy president said the City of Joburg could not provide services to buildings where the occupiers did not pay for them.

“The people are saying: ‘We are dumping because Pikitup is not providing us with dustbins.’ How can Pikitup provide criminals with dustbins? You have hijacked the building, you have occupied it illegally. You are not paying for services, so Pikitup cannot service you.”

Kunene said some of the buildings would be serviced once the illegal residents were evicted while other buildings would be demolished.

The acting mayor said the hijacked buildings were occupied by South African nationals and immigrants.

“Some of the people that have occupied these buildings are South Africans, some of them are foreigners. What is even painful… for me it is that there are syndicates who are actually taking rentals from these people who are staying in unsafe buildings.

“There are serious syndicates who are collecting money from them on a monthly basis, but they are afraid to come forward when we say to them: ‘Give us numbers and names of people that are taking the rentals.’”

Independent Media reported over the weekend that Kunene has taken the reins in the City of Joburg, albeit for a short while, after he was appointed as acting mayor while newly appointed mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is away on business.

Kunene, a member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for Roads and Transport, is in the driver’s seat for only two days as Gwamanda is in Cape Town on government business.

His acting appointment was effective from Sunday.

“In my capacity as the executive mayor of the City of Joburg Metropolitan Municipality and on authority vested on me by the Municipal Council, I hereby delegate Councillor Kenny Kunene, member of the mayoral committee of the City of Joburg Municipality to act as executive mayor for the period between May 14 and 15,” read the appointment letter from Gwamanda.

Earlier this year, Kunene took on his new portfolio as MMC for Roads and Transport in the City of Joburg.