City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba vowed to reclaim 500 hijacked buildings, as part of his campaign to bring safety and order back to the area.
The Mayor plans to open up Johannesburg’s hijacked buildings to private developers and will expropriate property if necessary.
Johannesburg has hundreds of “hijacked” buildings that have been taken over by residents or abandoned by owners.
Mashaba said that as part of developing the inner city and providing affordable housing to city residents, more than 500 of these buildings had been identified for development.
This week, residents and business owners in the city were counting the cost of a debilitating 11-day blackout following the theft of critical underground copper cabling.
And they said that while they were happy that work was finally under way to transform the area, they had yet to notice any improvements.
But progress is being made, albeit slowly. Some 1,500 metro police officers have been appointed to boost visible policing, 25 new surveillance cameras have been installed since July, and refuse collection has increased to three times a day.
The city is now trying to secure alternative accommodation for illegal occupants, before handing the hijacked buildings over to developers to turn into affordable housing.
But in an interview in the Sunday Times this week, Mashaba tells how he refuses to take responsibility for foreigners living in the inner city, saying they must find their own place to live.
Mashaba says he looks forward to the Johannesburg city centre becoming a ‘construction site’ over the next 18 months.