Tokoyo Sexwale To Reclaim Hijacked Buildings in Johannesburg

Johannesburg - Human Settlements Minister Tokoyo Sexwale has sent out a stern warning to people who hijacked buildings that his department would come after them.

Speaking at the launch of the Cavendish Chambers housing project on Tuesday, the minister said he would meet with the Hawks and Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele to discuss strategic evictions of people who hijacked buildings.

"Johannesburg has to be reclaimed - inch by inch, street by street, block by block, level by level," Sexwale said.

Earlier, Sexwale visited residents at the housing project and went on a tour of the building, which not so long ago had also been hijacked. Cavendish Chambers is on the corner of Kruis and Jeppe streets.

When the Affordable Housing Company (AFHCO) acquired the building 2006, it was in a serious state of disrepair. It took a team of 30 labourers 40 days to clean the building.

The building has since been developed by AFHCO through funding provided by the National Housing Finance Cooperation (NHFC).

The NHFC put R33 million into the project, which targets those who do not qualify for a government subsidy or earn enough to qualify for a bank loan.

It is aimed at the R3 500 - R10 000 income group.

Sexwale said the make-over of buildings such as Cavendish Chambers helped rejuvenate and deracialise the city. Cavendish Chambers is now 75 percent occupied.

The minister noted that over the years, Johannesburg had changed hands and as one race group moved into it, others moved out. The challenge now was to ensure that city did not die off and became a place for all races to live in, he said.

Sexwale urged the private sector and other organisations to work with government to make affordable housing a reality for more people.

"We must continue with the spirit of the World Cup… that of partnership. We were able to build airports, develop infrastructure and iconic stadia in record time because we worked together," he added.

The minister said that reclaiming the cities was one of the priorities of his department.

Renney Plit, CEO of AFHCO, said his group had invested about R1.5 billion in Johannesburg - an investment which he viewed as an opportunity to rejuvenate the city.

"Our aim is to develop units that are inspirational so people can be proud of where they live and ultimately want to live for years in the apartments," Plit added.

He called on government to work with the private sector to find creative housing solutions for those people who earned below R3 500 a month.

Samson Moraba, CEO of the NHFC, which provided the funding for Cavendish Chambers, said cities throughout the country were becoming derelict and needed to be reclaimed.

He urged banks to work together with the NHFC to turn around more buildings.

- BuaNews