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Johannesburg – Fourteen people accused of hijacking a building and forcing tenants to pay rent to them were expected to appear in court on Thursday morning.
The suspects were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the hijacked property in Fairview and were due to appear in the Jeppe Magistrate’s Court on charges of trespassing and contempt of court.
Lucky Sindane of City of Joburg’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) said allegations were that it was not the first time the property was hijacked.
He said information at their disposal was that it was recently hijacked by a group of people who then rented it out to tenants.
Sindani said the owner approached the high court and an eviction order was granted and executed on April 7, 2021.
“Security personnel were hired to guard the property. However, the suspects attacked the security personnel and forcefully reoccupied the building, in violation of the court order.
“The matter was then reported to the Jeppe police station and to the city’s GFIS for investigation. A special operation was conducted by GFIS, the police and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, and the property was returned to the rightful owner,” he said.
Sindani said the 50 tenants, all South Africans, refused to tell investigators how much they were paying to the hijackers.
“The complainant bought the building in July 2019. He never had access to the building as suspected hijackers always threatened him whenever he tried to access his property,” Sindane said.
This is the second building to be hijacked in the same street.
Two weeks ago, seven women and five men were arrested and charged with trespassing and contempt of court for allegedly hijacking a building and using force.
It is alleged that the property was recently hijacked by a number of people who forcefully took occupation and control of the property.
“The owners then approached the high court where an eviction order was granted and was executed on May 18.
“The eviction was executed and security personnel were hired to guard the property. However, the suspects attacked the security personnel and forcefully moved back into the property later that day,” he said.
After the involvement of GFIS and the police, the building was then handed back to the rightful owner, Sindani said.
Residents are urged to report any fraudulent or corrupt activities to the 24-hour tip-off hotline 0800 002 587 or email: [email protected] or [email protected] or visit the offices of GFIS situated at 48 Ameshoff Street, Braamfontein.