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​​At least 20 people were arrested during a raid of several hijacked buildings by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) in Jeppestown and Doornfontein in Region F on Thursday August 24.

Other stakeholders that took part in the clean-up and crime-prevention operation included the City of Johannesburg’s Group Forensics and Investigation Services (GFIS) headed by General Shadrack Sibiya, Department of Home Affairs, the City’s Health and Social Development Department and the Emergency Management Services.

Police seized large quantities of dagga from a hijacked City-owned building and shut down four businesses operating in contravention of applicable by-laws. Other businesses – including motor spares and panelbeating shops – operating without permits or with fraudulent licences were issued with notices of compliance.

Among those arrested were several undocumented foreigners.

Victoria Rammala, the City’s Director of Property Hijacking Investigations, said the operation was a continuation of a drive to reclaim hijacked buildings from criminals and hand them over to ordinary citizens for housing purposes.

“The main objective is to revitalise the inner city by renewing the buildings, which is in line with Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba’s 10-point plan,” Rammala said.

“The City of Johannesburg is leaving no stone unturned in its aim to take back the buildings.”

Rammala said what compounded the matter most was that many of the buildings did not have legitimate owners.