Six held in raid on hijacked Joburg building
The Gauteng provincial Hawks, Joburg metro police, council health and safety employees, and Home Affairs officials pounced on a hijacked building in the CBD, surrounding it and arresting six alleged hijackers in their shops.
Another 14 ran away when they saw the police arriving.
Teferi outside his building.
The building, Delvers Square, is owned by Tewodros “Teddy” Teferi, who bought the building on an instalment basis from the Affordable Housing Company in 2010.
Teferi, an Ethiopian, placed fellow Ethiopian traders into the ground-floor shops.
“They turned on me. They are all Ethiopian. It was not a conventional hijacking, where people invade buildings. A year ago they stopped paying me rent, formed a committee of 20 and started collecting rent,” he said.
When he sent his relatives to collect rent, the tenants refused them access into the building and assaulted them.
His brother was choked and almost killed, and a charge of attempted murder has been opened.
During the raid, suspects were arrested for this as well.
Teferi showed photos of his injured brother with red marks around his neck, where he said they had tried to choke him. His leg was broken in the attack.
Teferi said he had obtained two eviction orders, but the tenants hired an attorney who had opposed them, buying time and “playing games to stall giving me the money”.
He said the committee had collected about R6.5 million in more than a year in rentals.
Another time he had arranged for the sheriff to execute the eviction, but the tenants had applied for an urgent interdict after-hours through their attorney.
A standby judge had granted a restoration order, not knowing the circumstances. They then invaded the rest of the building, setting fire to two storeys, Teferi said.
His top-floor office has been burgled and his furniture destroyed.
Teferi has been living in Joburg for 15 years. “I bought the building because I want to renovate it.”
In desperation he had approached the Gauteng Hawks.
“Only six were arrested. The others ran away when they saw the police arrive, but they’ll be caught.”
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