MEC Mashatile declares war on crime and grime
The MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Paul Mashatile, came out swinging vociferously against illegal occupation (hijacking) of buildings as this unacceptable practice breeds crime and grime.
Speaking during his visit to the building that was hijacked and then burnt, MEC Mashatile strongly condemned illegal occupation and neglect of buildings.
“I am angered by the squalor that has gripped our cities and towns as these hijacked and/or neglected buildings are not only an eyesore but are a den for criminality”, MEC Mashatile said.
“The state of this and other illegally occupied or neglected buildings is appalling and it is unfathomable that people can live in conditions were there is no running water, no lights and even more disgustingly, no ablution facilities”, MEC Mashatile said.
“I cannot begin to imagine how people survived in such inhuman circumstances as not even animals should be kept in them”‘, MEC Mashatile added.
“In an effort to find a lasting solution to this lawlessness, I have directed the HoD of COGTA to establish a provincial task team that will be comprising of all municipalities in Gauteng, Department of Home Affairs, law enforcement agencies and the Gauteng Housing Rental Tribunal (The Tribunal) to establish the safety compliance of all buildings across the province”, MEC Mashatile continued.
The challenge of hijacking and neglect of buildings has been with us for some time and strong partnerships can lead to a more permanent solution being found. Hence, even landlords and/or owners of these properties will be brought on board they take responsibility and play a role in reclaiming our cities and towns whilst stern action is taken against those who hijack buildings. Legal practitioners will also be brought on board so as we agree on the best possible way of implementing our cities’ regeneration.
The team will also work with the Department of Home Affairs since a significant number of those affected are foreign nationals and their status need to be verified as this will impact on the nature of medium-to-long assistance that can be provided.
Given the inhabitable state of a vast number of buildings in our cities and towns around Gauteng and our concern for the safety and wellbeing of occupants of these apartments, our department (CoGTA) calls upon all rental property owners to submit, within three months from today, occupation certificates to the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) for safety compliance purposes as failure to submit means the onus will fall on them should any disaster strike.
The submission of these certificates will assist the department to identify rightful owners of properties and even hijackers, where they exist. Our priority is citizens and their plight is what we are concerned about and we will to ensure that they stay in safe places.
Should it be determined that these buildings are inhabitable, the Department in consultation with all municipalities in Gauteng, will solicit legal opinion on a collective process to declare such non-complying building to be declared either expropriated and/or condemned in terms of applicable laws and regulations at local and provincial levels.
Submissions should be handed to Dr Elias Sithole, Head of PDMC, at Bank of Lisbon Building, 10th Floor, 37 Pixley ka Seme Street, Johannesburg and/or Elias.email@example.com.
Meanwhile, occupants of these hijacked and/or neglected apartments who are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords or slumlords should report their experiences to the Gauteng Housing Rental Tribunal in order that appropriate action is taken against perpetrators. The Tribunal is located at 4th Floor, Ikusasa House, 129 Fox Street, Johannesburg and submissions should be handed to Ms Betty Kgobe or Betty.firstname.lastname@example.org.
During his visit MEC Mashatile entered the ground floor of the building to be met by shocking conditions of grime and squalor. He immediately formulated the view that the building is not habitable and the briefing that he received from representatives of the Joint Operations Centre (JoC) vindicated this view as it was confirmed that the building was hijacked and no maintenance had taken place in a long time and that it had caught fire in two previous occasions.
The law enforcement agencies also confirmed that several criminal activities including drug peddling, theft and even rape were happening there. It was also confirmed that it was utilized as a safe haven for criminals who preyed on their victims and then took refuge inside the building.
Irrespective, MEC Mashatile acknowledged a humanitarian crisis that existed and therefore urged the relief team to redouble their efforts in completing the relocation of those displaced as a matter of extreme urgency.
“I have directed our team to ensure that everyone is moved to the temporary shelter at Wembley Stadium without any undue delay”, MEC Mashatile said.
“Already the vast majority of women and children have been relocated and it is our intention that everyone who has been displaced by this calamity would be relocated shortly and they will also be provided with blankets and food in order to alleviate their situation “, MEC Mashatile added.
Source: Government of South Africa