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Friday Nov 10, 2017

Hijacked Joburg house retrieved

A family of four were left homeless yesterday after the owner of a hijacked Cleveland, Joburg house finally got it back.

In a mid-morning raid, the owner, who asked for his identity not to be revealed, accompanied by police, managed to evict the family. A woman had allegedly hijacked the four-bedroom house since late last year. Police had to force their way into the property after repeatedly knocking to get attention. A woman in handcuffs was later escorted to a police van.

Speaking to The Star, the owner said he had bought the property for R205 000 on auction last year.

"I came here after buying the house and told the lady that I was the new owner. She refused to vacate the property; instead she rented out the rooms," he said.

The Star understands that she collected R15 000 in rent every month.

The owner said he was initially willing to assist the woman find alternative accommodation, but this was turned down.

"I offered to find her another place to stay and pay the rent for six months. She refused and fought with me. Two weeks ago, I got her arrested after they attacked my wife here. They attacked the car and smashed the windows," he added.

The Star understands that five other tenants vacated the property late last month. The remaining tenant yesterday said she was under the impression that she had to leave at the end of this month.

With the apparent impasse, the owner approached the courts for an eviction order, which was granted. This, he said, had cost him R150 000. Despite this, the illegal landlord refused to vacate the property.

The owner then reported the matter to Cleveland police station last month. A probe into the matter was then conducted by the SAPS and Joburg’s group forensics and investigation service. The municipal bill has also not been settled. "The last time I checked, the bill was R12 000 and I have to pay for all of this," the man said.

A woman on the property said she was paying R1 500 a month in rent for her two adult children and her grandchild, while she stayed at her workplace. Stranded, she didn’t know where they would spend the night.

City of Joburg forensic and investigation department spokesperson Lucky Sindane said the arrest was the third such in a week.

In a statement, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said hijacked properties were a serious challenge.

"The city has conducted an audit of some 500 bad buildings, 134 of which are confirmed as hijacked. Twentyfour of the bad buildings belong to the city," he said. "Criminals must know they might run, but there is no place for them to hide in Johannesburg."

He added that raids on the properties would be intensified. "It is essential that we bring back the rule of law in our city and take it back from the criminal elements."

The woman was due in court today.

The Star




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