Gauteng Police Commissioner General Elias Mawela says abandoned and derelict buildings in the Johannesburg CBD are providing havens for criminals.
In one of the buildings which was raided, over 70 undocumented migrants were arrested. Police also seized more than 80 000 counterfeit goods valued at an estimated R8 million.
The raids form part of Operation O Kae Molao – a weekly operation to combat crime.
Mawela led law enforcement personnel on the raid.
His first stop was the Merkato Shopping centre, a building in the CBD, where they seized counterfeit goods including cigarettes, cosmetics and beauty products with an estimated value of R8 million.
“We are making an impact, make no mistake because once you hit the criminal in their pocket you are disrupting them. You know the money which is already collected here more than R100 000. If you are a business person and that money is taken from you, definitely it is going to be a set-back for you. Initially we started dealing with those selling counterfeits in the streets. But we felt lets deal with those who are supplying this thing. Hence you see we have upped our game and we are dealing with this one.”
Police went from room to room, knocking on doors of the Florence Nightingale building searching for suspected criminals as well as stolen cellphones and laptops that were the proceeds of robberies.
Residents of one rundown building say there is a lot of criminal activity on the premises, including muggings.
Police moved to another derelict building known as Casamiya in Hillbrow which Mawela says is a haven for street robbers.
The building is overflowing with raw sewage, it is rat-infested, with leaking pipes and residents have illegal electricity connections. A resident, who did not want her name to be used, says they are living in fear because of the criminality which she says is out of control.
“So they take people’s bags and run away with the bags into the building. There were fences here that had closed us, they took them out to make it easier for them. Taxify if you request, they do not come here. [There are] gunshots every now and then. It is bad unfortunately.”
Below is a tweet from Tshepo Phagane:
Some of the counterfeit goods recovered during today’s police raid in the Joburg CBD. They included cigarettes, beauty products, cosmetics. Police also recovered R100 000 in cash in one of the buildings raided.#sabcnews pic.twitter.com/VGqrahlYTH
— Tshepo (@tphagane) August 25, 2022
Mawela says abandoned and derelict buildings in the CBD create a huge problem for the police. He’s called on the owners to either renovate them and make them habitable or for them to be turned into student accommodation which is in huge demand.
“If they don’t want the building to be occupied let them seal it. It is easy to seal the building like that one because you can put bricks and mortar at ground level, close the doors and nobody can enter until you have put whatever systems you want to put in your building. Abandoned buildings, it’s a safe haven for criminals.”