DEEP DIVE (PART TWO)
City of Joburg responds to Operation Dudula’s threats: ‘Only a court of law can issue an eviction notice’
While the City of Joburg continues with interventions to reclaim hijacked or abandoned buildings across the City, Operation Dudula (the latter meaning to push or shove aside in isiZulu) has sprung up and embarked on its own vigilante strategy to remove immigrants and reclaim buildings. Daily Maverick asked the City of Joburg to respond to questions about Operation Dudula’s operations.
Daily Maverick asked the questions. City of Joburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane answered.
Question: We understand that Operation Dudula has adopted their own strategy of issuing eviction notices to those in abandoned or hijacked buildings in Johannesburg. Is the City of Joburg’s strategy of reclaiming hijacked buildings related to what Operation Dudula is doing by issuing eviction notices to residents in abandoned or hijacked buildings? Please can you clarify the difference in strategies?
Answer: Since the establishment of the Group Forensic and Investigations Services (GFIS) Unit in 2016, it has been mandated to manage and maintain the security of the City, which includes issues related to hijacked, problem and abandoned properties across Johannesburg’s seven regions.
It is incorrect and even dangerous to draw parallels between the work of a legislated body, ie GFIS with the work of a group acting outside the bounds of the law. Working together with various law enforcement agencies, GFIS continues to assist residents of Johannesburg to win back their properties which are in the hands of criminals. To date the department has handed over 54 properties to the rightful owners.
We cannot speak on the strategies of Operation Dudula, it is upon their members to articulate that. As the City we work within a legal framework, which includes investigations and orders of the court.
Q: What is the City’s relation with Operation Dudula?
A: The City, its Departments and Entities have no relation or relationship with Operation Dudula. Any suggestion that the City of Johannesburg – whether it be the Council, Executive or Core Administration, Departments or Entities – have a relationship with Operation Dudula must be dismissed.
Q: Has the City held any engagements with the Dudula Operation on these issues? And does the City accept any negotiations with Dudula regarding these matters?
A: The City receives its mandate from the law and acts within that framework. If any resident or affected party has information about hijacked buildings they must report this to GFIS, and give it the space to conduct its work alongside JMPD, SAPS, the Hawks, the State Security Agency and the SIU, or any other relevant law enforcement authority.
Q: Has the City been approached by Operation Dudula regarding assistance on the matter of evictions? If so, what was the City’s response?
A: The City has no record of any such engagements – formal or informal.
Q: What is the City of Joburg’s stance on the action by the Dudula Operation to issue eviction notices to people in abandoned buildings?
A: It is our view that Operation Dudula has no authority to do so as only a court may issue an eviction order.
Q: Isn’t Operation Dudula’s actions of issuing eviction notices illegal? If the City considers it so, does it plan to take any counter actions against Operation Dudula?
A: Only a court of law can issue an eviction notice, which is then served by the Sheriff of the Court. Where an illegal eviction has taken place, this must be reported to the SAPS for investigation. DM