Alleged kingpin among 13 suspected property hijackers arrested in Turffontein
Law enforcement officers arrested 13 suspected property hijackers during a sting operation in Turffontein‚ south of Johannesburg‚ in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Among the group was the alleged kingpin who had been on the run from police. He was allegedly involved in the hijacking of a property back in 2016.
"We have been looking for him for a very long time. The rightful owner was denied access to his property after he purchased it. It is also alleged that the suspect threatened to kill him if he ever set foot on the property again‚" Johannesburg forensics spokesperson Lucky Sindani said.
He is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Friday for fraud‚ theft and intimidation.
Twelve other suspected property hijackers were arrested at 42 Biccard Street in Turffontein.
Sindani said it was alleged that the owner of the property leased it to a tenant back in 2015 and they came to an agreement that the tenant could sublet and collect monthly rental on behalf of the owner.
"The new tenants had refused to sign subletting contracts. At the time‚ the owner had also decided to renovate the property.
"While they were busy with renovations‚ a group of about 50 people overpowered the security guard and forcefully moved into the property‚" Sindani said.
The matter was then reported to Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS) in September 2018 for investigation.
The suspects were arrested on Thursday morning. The group will be charged with trespassing and malicious damage to property.
"While the team was busy making arrests‚ a vehicle passed by the hijacked property. Shots were fired into the air from the vehicle before the car drove off‚" Sindani said.
The gunmen are still on the run.
"No amount of intimidation will stop our dedicated teams from winning back properties which are in the hands of hijackers.
"Criminals must know that they might run but there is no place for them to hide in Johannesburg."
A total of 34 properties have been handed back to their rightful owners.
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