The City of Johannesburg has vowed to clamp down on the illegal invasion of land and hijacking of buildings, after 23 illegal occupants were evicted from a city-owned property.
The eviction at the property in Van Beeck Street, New Doornfontein followed an "increase in the number of incidents of lawlessness" in some suburbs of the city, the City said in a statement. It alleged that criminal syndicates are using the national lockdown to take over unoccupied buildings and to invade open spaces and land.
"Citizens are urged to heed the warning and refrain from unlawful activities within the City. The City has directed the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and Group Forensics and Investigative Services to act swiftly to protect the assets of the City and private citizens for the greater interests of all citizens including the poor and homeless," Mayor Geoff Makhubo said in the statement.
Increased security personnel will be deployed to guard city-owned properties and to prevent any further incidents, according to the statement.
"We are concerned that people are using this lockdown period to take advantage of the law by illegally occupying City buildings. The City is committed to ensuring that those affected by the evictions be accommodated during this period at identified centres that the City has identified to accommodate the homeless, as per the national lockdown regulations on eviction," said Makhubo.
The City, with the assistance of the provincial social development department has accommodated the homeless in various recreation centres across the metro.
"Therefore, we will not tolerate unlawful invasions under the false pretence or narrative that people are homeless. An investigation to track down these criminal syndicates is currently underway," said Makhubo.