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Dept to be more aggressive in clearing hijacked Gauteng buildings

Paul Mashatile says they are now working with municipalities to work out who are the owners of the dilapidated buildings.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile says the department will be moving more "aggressively" to clear hijacked buildings in the province.

Mashatile set up a task team to deal with growing concerns and security risks linked to illegally occupied buildings in July.

At least seven people died and several others were injured when a fire engulfed a building in downtown Johannesburg.

Mashatile spoke to Eyewitness News on Thursday on the sidelines of a discussion on the state of governance in Gauteng at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Mashatile says that they are now working with municipalities to work out who are the owners of the dilapidated buildings.

He says that cleaning up hijacked buildings is difficult, as most of them are occupied by foreign nationals who have nowhere to go.

“We often run into major difficulties, even where there was a disaster, we put up tents but many of these people refuse to go there and in a few days we end up with a lot of people on the streets.”

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has warned illegal occupants that they will be evicted in the next six to nine months.

“But we will only provide temporary accommodation to South Africans. If not at the City of Johannesburg, they must just tell us where to take them.”

Mashatile says they will also be dealing decisively with unscrupulous landlords who encourage the building invasions.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)