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​Thirty-two illegal immigrants were arrested during a joint South African Police Service (SAPS) and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) clean-up operation in the Midrand Central Business District (CBD) in Region A on Wednesday August 16.

During the operation – aimed at making the Midrand CBD attractive to investors to grow the local economy and create jobs – members of the SAPS and JMPD raided five hijacked buildings, seized counterfeit goods in the streets, dealt with environmental hazards, clamped down on a brothel and issued 46 fines for unroadworthy vehicles at the Midrand taxi rank.

Informal traders blocking pedestrian walkways and illegally occupying pavements were ordered to comply with City by-laws.

Other stakeholders involved in the operation included the Johannesburg Property Company, Department of Home Affairs, South African Revenue Service, the City’s Environmental Health Department, Johannesburg Emergency Management Services, Pikitup, Gauteng Liquor Board and Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The clean-up operation came two days after Johannesburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba launched the “A Re Sebetseng” cleanup campaign in Yeoville, Region F.
Member of Mayoral Committee for Public Safety Cllr Michael Sun said the urban decay seen in Midrand was a cause for concern as it was lowering the value of properties in the CBD.

“We cannot allow this decay to continue. Some of the buildings here are owed by the City and are occupied by people we don’t even know. When they saw our officials approaching, they ran away and locked themselves inside the buildings,” Cllr Sun said.

He said local businesses needed to comply with City by-laws to help strengthen the local economy.

“Midrand is probably one of the hubs with the biggest economic potential in the whole of Gauteng. It is in a good locality and has a potential to grow, but it is being destroyed by the urban decay,” MMC Sun said.

He said even though the operation sought to shut down illegal business operations, correct procedures would be followed.

“We’re also supporting local business owners and we want them to comply with our by-laws. We want them to flourish and turn our CBDs into good business hubs. But we want them to know that we don’t support illegal activities,” Sun said.

Regional Director Abigail Ndlovu said the region had a duty to ensure that grime and crime were eliminated to create a better business environment.

“This will also help us achieve the City’s targeted 5% economic growth. So, for people to invest in our space, it has to be attractive. We need to keep on addressing the issues of service delivery because that way we will be able to grow our economy by attracting investments,” Ndlovu said.