The City is grappling with the scourge of hijacked and derelict buildings, particularly those under the control of slumlords in Johannesburg. According to SowetanLIVE, recent revelations indicate that city officials failed to secure a building reclaimed from hijackers four years ago, allowing it to fall back into the hands of a criminal syndicate.
Vannin Court in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, has become a symbol of this ongoing struggle. Last week, city officials declared it unsafe for human habitation, leading to the eviction of its occupants. However, information revealed the building had been earmarked for redevelopment into low-cost housing units four years ago. Despite previous eviction attempts in 2019, the building’s occupants returned shortly after.
Ward councillor Cabral Mmbengwa voiced concerns, stating that previous eviction efforts had been ineffective and that finding alternative solutions, such as demolition, was essential. An architect involved in the redevelopment project explained that the plans were ready. However, a lack of funds had stalled progress.
The Joburg Property Company (JPC), responsible for the city’s buildings, attributed the project’s failure to hijacking and a lack of developer funding. The JPC pointed out that the eviction of unlawful occupiers requires providing alternative accommodation, which necessitates funding not readily available.
Residents of these dilapidated buildings often pay rent to slumlords, enduring filthy and hazardous conditions. They are frequently forced to walk long distances for basic amenities like water.
Efforts to address this issue have faced criticism. Following a fire in a hijacked building in Marshalltown, the city claimed that non-governmental organizations were impeding eviction efforts. Activists countered by requesting information regarding the warrants used for these raids.
The situation highlights Johannesburg’s complex challenges as it seeks to reclaim and redevelop hijacked properties while ensuring the well-being of its residents’ well-being during this property crisis.
Picture: X / HilbrowRadio247
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