Property hijacker arrested in Johannesburg

Handcuffs
Handcuffs
Image: STOCK IMAGE

A 28-year-old property hijacker was arrested on Thursday morning in Cleveland‚ Johannesburg.

City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said in a statement the arrest came after a sting operation by the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS)‚ the police and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).

It is alleged that the suspect hijacked the property in February 2016 and collected monthly rental of R15‚000. The total rental collected by the suspect from February 2016 to October 2017 amounted to about R300‚000.

The rightful owner incurred about R150‚000 in legal fees while trying to obtain an eviction order.

“Immediately after the rightful owner bought the property in February 2016‚ the suspect‚ who was then a tenant living on the property‚ approached the rest of the tenants and instructed them to pay monthly rentals to her.”

She informed the other tenants that the new owner had transferred the property to her before partitioning the property in order to have extra rooms for the tenants.

The rightful owner last month reported the matter to the Cleveland Police Station. The suspect is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on November 10.

“Hijacked properties are a serious challenge for the City‚ but I am pleased with the strides we are making in the fight against criminals who exploit our residents‚” Mashaba said.

The City said they have conducted audits on about 500 “bad” buildings. Of these 24 belong to the city and 134 were confirmed as hijacked.

“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.

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