Eyewitness News reporter Mia Lindeque visited Johannesburg's inner city's dilapidated buildings, which are illegally occupied by people who can't afford to pay rent but also don't want to stay on the streets.
Former mayor Parks Tau has tried for years to clean up these buildings and now, Executive Mayor of Joburg, Herman Mashaba he is also doing his best to clamp down on hijacked buildings.
The perception is that these buildings are filled with criminals and it is haven for drugs and crime.
Lindeque spent a morning in Hillbrow at a hijacked building which she says is occupied by unemployed people. Lindeque says she also met a 19-year-old girl who lived and made money selling sweets inside the Cape York building. She adds that after the building was ravaged by a fire, the young girl now sleeps on the streets as security guards watch the building.
It's so unsafe for them on the street. When we were there they demanded money from us. They are in a very vulnerable position.— Mia Lindeque, EWN reporter
Lindeque goes on to say she also spotted a group of men who were openly smoking nyaope in close proximity to a primary school.
On Thursday, Lindeque went to Commissioner Street with authorities where buildings were searched for drugs, weapons and identity documents of the dwellers.
It was quite a scary experience not only for authorities but for the dwellers too.— Mia Lindeque, EWN reporter
Lindeque says members of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) together with the South African Police Service (SAPS) ran into the dark building, knocking on doors while conducting their search.
The people living in these buildings paint a different picture, calling this home. Lindeque says that some have lived there for close to two decades.
It's better to stay in a hijacked building than sleep on the streets. We used to pay rent, now there's no electricity and no water.— Zandile, Hijacked building dweller
I've been staying here for 19 years. We ask for help and no one helps saying this is a government building. We have people that smoke nyaope here. There are many criminals inside here and if you talk you get beaten.— Philisiwe, Hijacked building dweller
Take a listen:
This article first appeared on 702 : EWN explores Joburg's hijacked buildings