The City of Johannesburg is considering a "shock and awe" strategy to chase away anyone occupying a building in the city centre without authorisation, to return the city's hijacked buildings to its owners, according to Bloomberg on Thursday.
The city's Regulatory, Compliance and Special Investigations unit reportedly presented the plan to the Inner City Partnership Forum, which is convened by the city.
The proposal reportedly says the city will: "adopt the 'shock and awe' doctrine" based "on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular display of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight," Bloomberg reported.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has reportedly seen the plan. He told Bloomberg: "It would be premature to have a public discussion around this particular matter because the team only presented to us a concept which is at such a very early stage."
Earlier this month, Mashaba said: "The inner city today is hijacked by criminal elements. For me first and foremost being a South African, I'm not prepared to sit back and watch my own country being taken by criminal elements ... Anyone who is in the city illegally must be prepared to face the law. They must know we are not going to be the government that tolerates criminality. If they think they have the resources to fight us, we are ready as the new government to fight so that our people can take ownership of the city."
Bloomberg reported that the presentation listed the National Prosecuting Authority, Asset Forfeiture Unit and Home Affairs as key stake holders.
Bonita Meyersfeld, head of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies told Bloomberg that the approach taken by the municipality "suggests that poor people have had a choice in choosing to occupy a dangerous, dilapidated, awful place in the inner city. That doesn't exist; we have a housing crisis."
Mashaba has previously come under fire for his comments about illegal immigrants. In December he said South Africans lost confidence in government because it opened borders and allowed people to flock in.