"We are mos addicts, what can I say. There is nothing I can say, except the truth."
These were the words of 32-year-old Melinda* who was snared in a raid conducted in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
"Please don't mix the needles up because I don't share needles," she said as the police searched her bag. However, they found no drugs.
Melinda refused to direct the officers to her heroin suppliers.
She said she had tried to stop taking drugs and added that it was no use going to rehab because there were no support structures in place to stop her from having a relapse.
Okapi knives, scissors, pangas, axes, illegal ammunition and hammers were some of the items police confiscated in some of the buildings.
The raid, code-named Operation Bad Buildings, was conducted by the police, Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and Ekhuruleni Metro Police Department (EMPD).
Vannin and Stensby courts as well as Eastgate and Bluehuise were some of the buildings raided, which resulted in 124 people arrested.
Some occupants were still asleep when officers knocked on and kicked in doors, asking for identity documents or passports.
Twenty-one people, believed to be foreigners, were arrested for not having legal documentation, while three were arrested for being in possession of illegal ammunition. Another was arrested for selling liquor without a licence, while one was allegedly found in possession of a homemade rifle.
JMPD spokesperson Wayne Minnaar, who took part in the raid, said the operation had focused on hijacked buildings because criminals used them.
Streets were closed down as police vehicles, sirens blaring, made their way to some of the buildings while bystanders watched the raids unfold.
"We found undocumented foreign nationals. This was a joint operation and we will be going to other areas in Gauteng, targeting hijacked buildings because we have found that they harbour criminals who attack innocent people," Minnaar said.
Inside the raided buildings, rubbish had piled up as sewage seeped down the passageways. A stench emanated from some rooms, while some residents occupied bathrooms and kitchens, where they slept.
Some buildings were without electricity, and in those that had, illegal wiring could be seen coming from the streets into the rooms.
Some of the those arrested were taken to the Hillbrow police station to be processed. Those without criminal records and who had legal documents were released.
*Melinda - not her real name