File picture: SAPS (Twitter)

JOHANNESBURG - Three female suspected property hijackers who allegedly hijacked Doreen Court for 10 years were arrested in Bellevue East in Johannesburg this week, City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Sunday.

The arrests on Friday night followed a sting operation led by the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS) department working together with the South African Police Service (SAPS), he said.

The three women were expected to appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of contravening section 3(1) of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE Act) and fraud.

"It is alleged that the suspects, who were tenants at Doreen Court, hijacked the property from the owner in May 2008. They reneged from their obligation of paying monthly rental to the owner and subsequently sublet the property to unsuspecting individuals," Mashaba said.

The suspected hijackers were unlawfully collecting monthly rent from the subtenants without the consent of the owner. The owner was also denied access to his property. 

The owner then approached the GFIS which worked together with the SAPS Johannesburg East cluster in investigating the matter.

"I am delighted that another property owner has finally gained control of their property which was in the hands of the hijackers. This bring the total number of properties handed back to rightful owners to 29," he said.

"Criminals must know that they may run but there is no place for them to hide in Johannesburg. Operation Buya Mthetho remains determined to ensuring that the rule of law returns to our communities.

"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," Mashaba said.

African News Agency (ANA)