Property hijacking ‘kingpin’ arrested

HIJACKED BUILDING HUNTER: Mayor Herman Mashaba says there’s still work to be done to rid the city of property hijackers.

JOHANNESBURG’S most wanted property hijacker has been arrested.

Mayor Herman Mashaba announced the arrest of the property hijacking kingpin along with two co-accused implicated in eight cases of property hijacking in Johannesburg.

Jonathan Bongani Constable, Bongani Khathide and Kingsley Eze were arrested on Friday, 29 December and appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, January 4 implicated in a host of building hijacking cases.

According to a statement by the City of Joburg, newly dubbed ‘kingpin’ Jonathan Constable emerged from the court’s holding cells reassuring his followers to stay calm.

Constable and his two co-accused will remain in custody pending a bail hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 11.

The decision was granted as the prosecutor needed more time to go over the evidence presented by the investigating officer.

Constable is alleged to have even used the services of the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) to escort him to properties he planned to hijack, under the pretense that he was working with the city on investigating hijacked buildings.

Mashaba, during a brief appearance at the court on Thursday, said a plan was in place to rejuvenate hijacked buildings and turn them into low-cost housing.

According to Mashaba’s statement, the ‘kingpin’ would approach the tenants of buildings and introduce himself as an investigator. He would then convince them that the true property owners were hijackers and instruct them to pay their rent to him instead.

ACCUSED: Jonathan Constable and his two accomplices are accused of involvement in eight cases of property hijacking in Johannesburg.

The same modus operandi was used by Constable and his co-accused in a previous attempt to hijack a building in Jeppestown. The owners of the property informed the City’s Group Forensic Investigations Services (GFIS) unit, which managed, together with the Hawks, to hand the property back to the owners.

However, Constable allegedly helped the evicted illegal occupiers to hijack the property again. A scuffle ensued between security personnel and the illegal occupants, shots were fired and two people were injured in the process.

GFIS, working with law enforcement agencies, are at an advanced stage in their investigation of a number of cases in which Constable is implicated.

According to the City, the ‘kingpin’ has been convicted of fraud before and was also found guilty of impersonating a police officer. He has a 157-page criminal profile. It is alleged that he has been operating throughout the country and has criminal cases in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and the Western Cape.

“Hijacked properties are a major challenge faced by the city, but we are pleased with the progress we are making in addressing these challenges,” Mashaba said.

“Around 11 hijacked properties have been handed back to their rightful owners and we have also arrested three property hijackers in the last three weeks. About 164 buildings are confirmed as hijacked in the city.”

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Gopolang Chawane

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