- The City of Johannesburg's Group Forensic and Investigation Services has returned 47 hijacked properties to its lawful owners.
- The unit had registered 1 772 complaints of problem properties within the City.
- The most complaints were received in the south of Johannesburg.
In the past year, the City of Johannesburg's Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) successfully returned 47 hijacked properties to its lawful owners.
The latest success was reported on Tuesday in Rosettenville when the unit arrested 10 people during a special operation at a hijacked property.
GFIS spokesperson, Lucky Sindane, said the property was allegedly hijacked by a group of Nigerian nationals in 2018.
He said the GFIS working with the police's property hijacking investigation task team and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, secured the property and handed the premises over to security personnel hired by the building's owner.
On 2 February, four people were arrested at a hijacked property in Yeoville. Sindane said it was a property that was hijacked by a group of Congolese nationals in 2018.
"The owner tried on several occasions to regain control of his property, but he was denied access."
The property had since been handed over to its rightful owner.
Sindane said in many cases, some owners decided not to reclaim their properties as the outstanding costs on rates and taxes outweighed the value of the property.
"These buildings, when they are hijacked, they are not paying for services like rates and taxes and then you find that the building is owing the City R55 million in rates and taxes and electricity, but the value of the building is R3 million.
"People would rather leave it as is and move on. We also found that most of these owners are overseas and are sick and want nothing to do with the buildings anymore," Sindane said.
Sindane said the unit had registered 1 772 complaints of problem properties within the City of Johannesburg.
Majority of complaints were received from the south of Johannesburg.
He said the GFIS managed to successfully prosecute and secure convictions on 28 cases of property hijacking.
"The City is committed to ensuring that it stops the rot in the city and make it a prosperous and inclusive place for our people to live, work and play."
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