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Rights group: Raids on hijacked buildings not solving core issues

Mashaba is leading efforts to reclaim dilapidated buildings in the inner city, many of which have been unlawfully occupied for more than 20 years.

FILE: Red Ants evict residents of a block of flats on Harrison Street in Jeppestown. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) says the City of Johannesburg’s raids on what government calls hijacked buildings are not going to solve core problems or address real issues of poverty.

Mayor Herman Mashaba is leading efforts to reclaim dilapidated buildings in the inner city, many of which have been unlawfully occupied for more than 20 years.

On Thursday, the city, along with the JMPD, police and the Home Affairs Department, raided several buildings as part of an ongoing crime-fighting programme.

But Seri’s Stuart Wilson says they need to address the real problems if they want to succeed.

“The kind of affordable accommodation the city is talking about is not affordable for the people living in the inner city right now.

“What they really talking about is moving poor people out and moving rich people in and that’s not fair, that’s not lawful and that’s not Constitutional.”

This dark, rank building on Commissioner Street is hardly a home.

There’s no electricity, no running water and no toilets.

Residents say at night, some people smoke nyaope and criminals hide in dark corners.

They know it’s illegal to stay without paying but as one woman explains, it's safer than being on the street.

“Yes I know that but there’s nobody to help us. We’re just staying because we are not working.”

This 61-year-old grandmother has called this place home for 24 years.

Although it's unsafe and unhygienic, she has no choice.

“It’s tough to stay in here. It’s horrible, sometimes I can’t sleep. You’ll see people stealing other people’s stuff and they run away.”

People dump their waste and dirty water at the back of the building, and some who live here fear this is making all of them sick.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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