Two men have been sentenced to a combined 23 years behind bars for fraud relating to the hijacking of a building in the Johannesburg inner city, Sandton Chronicle reports.
The 43-year-old building hijacking kingpin and his 58-year-old accomplice were sentenced to eight years and 15 years imprisonment respectively. They had hijacked Angus Mansions, and were already convicted in September by the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court.
Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba welcomed the sentence, and said one of the accused is a professional attorney who was struck off the roll in 2014 by the law society.
“As an attorney, he played a major role in ensuring that documents that were needed for the sale of the property were in order,” the mayor said.
“Between August and November 2006 the pair identified loopholes in the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro) website, falsified company records and registered themselves as the owners of Angus Mansions,” Mashaba said. The 67-unit building was owned by a Section 21 company.
“After changing ownership of the building [the fraudsters] then presented themselves as directors of [the Section 21 company] and sold Angus Mansions for R59 million. When they found a buyer for the building they produced fraudulent Cipro documents which indicated that they were the directors the company.”
Mashaba further explained the pair assured the conveyancing attorney that everything regarding the sale was above board and that the sale needed to be finalised urgently.
“A cheque of about R1,1 million was issued by the conveyancing attorney. The cheque was then deposited into [the attorney’s] trust account and R652 000 transferred to [the kingpin].”
They then applied for an eviction order and evicted the tenants. For years the rightful owners of the property have been battling to get their property back.
“Hijacked properties are one of the challenges we are faced with in the City but we are pleased with the strides we are making in addressing the challenge,” the mayor said.
So far, the City has been able to hand 11 hijacked properties back to their rightful owners and also arrested three property hijackers in the last three weeks. About 164 buildings are confirmed as hijacked in the City.
Mashaba said that property hijackers are now contacting the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services team volunteering to vacate the properties that they have hijacked.