SAVE OUR CITY: Everson Luhanga says Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is cracking down on those invading and looting the city’s buildings.
Twenty three suspects — including a city councillor — have been arrested for their role in stripping Joburg’s abandoned pound in Denver.
The suspects are being detained at the Johannesburg Central Police Station.
They face charges of malicious damage to property, theft and vandalism.
“According to the preliminary investigation by the JMPD, there are allegations that a senior member of the South African Police Services may be involved in the ongoing invasion of the property,” Joburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said during an on-site inspection today.
During the inspection they discovered a team claiming to be contracted by the owner to undertake “construction work”.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) have also seized a TLB, a forklift and building equipment found in the possession of the suspects.
Gwamanda warned that there will be zero tolerance for criminals hijacking buildings.
In a visit to the pound in the industrial area of Denver, Cleveland, on Wednesday, Gwamanda said: “It’s our intention to ensure that we prevent any further loss of life and disasters in the city as a result of illegally occupied and hijacked buildings.”
Gwamanda confirmed that the vandalised property in Denver belonged to the city; it was purchased in 2019 for an amount of R 40 million and was intended for use as a pound for the JMPD.
The pound had been identified as a possible site for temporary accommodation for the victims of the fire at Usindiso House in Marshalltown two weeks ago in which 76 people burnt to death.
“The operation has resulted in the arrest of 23 suspects amongst whom is a councillor of the city. The suspects face charges of malicious damage to property and city infrastructure, theft, and vandalism.”
The mayor has mandated the City manager and City administration to urgently take the necessary steps to protect and secure the pound and to prevent any further damage to its facilities.
“We will formally communicate to the Speaker the arrest of the councillor and our disappointment that such allegations have arisen against the very persons we would expect to be the custodians of City properties and proponents of law and order,” he said.