Police have arrested 28 people linked to the illegal occupation and taking over of buildings in southern Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Mayor’s office said on Wednesday.

It said the owners of some of the buildings had unsuccessfully tried to evict unlawful occupants and “hijackers” from their properties, who will face charges of trespassing and contempt of court on Thursday.

They were arrested after an operation led by the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service Department, the South African Police Service, the Department of Home Affairs, the Social Development Department and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.

The Johannesburg Municipal Council, led by Mayor Herman Mashaba of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, has identified about 300 buildings as having been forcibly wrested from their rightful owners.

“The city will not leave any stone unturned when dealing with criminal activities within its area of jurisdiction and we will continue to intensify the raids at these bad and hijacked properties with the assistance
of the police and other law enforcement agencies,” Mashaba said in a statement.