Johannesburg - A husband and his wife were arrested on Friday night for allegedly hijacking a property in Kenilworth, south of Johannesburg, mayor Herman Mashaba said.
"The couple is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 6 November 2017," Mashaba said on Saturday.
The arrests followed a sting operation led by the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS), South African Police Service (SAPS), and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), he said.
"It is alleged that in December 2016 the pair went to the property in Kenilworth and informed all the tenants that the property does not belong to the complainant, it was under investigation,and that they should not pay rent to him. The pair have since been collecting monthly rental totaling R20 000."
When the rightful owner went to the property to try and address the matter with the tenants and the alleged hijackers, he was threatened and told to never return to the property.
The complainant then approached the GFIS for assistance. An investigation conducted by GFIS proved that the complainant was indeed the rightful owner of the property. Hijacked properties was one of the problems facing the city, but "we are pleased with the strides we are making in addressing the challenge", Mashaba said.
The city had conducted an audit of some 500 "bad buildings", about 134 of which were confirmed as hijacked. Twenty-four of the 500 bad buildings belonged to the city.
"I am pleased that we won back a property which was in the hands of the hijackers and handed to the rightful owner. Criminals must know that they might run but there is no place for them to hide in Johannesburg."
The city would not leave any stone unturned when dealing with criminal activities within its area of jurisdiction and would continue to intensify the raids at these bad and hijacked properties with the assistance of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies.
"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.
"We are committed to ensuring that we stop the rot in our inner city and make it a prosperous and inclusive place for our people to live, work, and play. I would like to thank all the role players involved in yesterday’s [Friday] successful operation, especially the SAPS for their continued support," Mashaba said.