Residents upset over re-sale of Rose Street plot

Bo-Kaap residents protested the Citys sale of a vacant plot of land in Rose Street. Now it is being re-sold for almost double the value.

A piece of land in the Bo-Kaap that the City sold in June for R1.4 million is now on sale again for almost R3m, nearly double the original asking price.

The City took flak earlier this year when it sold the Rose Street plot in an online auction, after changing from an on-site auction at the last minute (“‘No’ to Bo-Kaap land sale”, Atlantic Sun, June 30).

Residents, wanting the land for community housing, had strongly opposed the sale.

Critics say the City isn’t doing enough to protect the area from gentrification.

Now the property is up for sale again and was recently advertised by Rawson Property for R2.9m as the “perfect location for a family home or a boutique B&B”.

Bo-Kaap Ratepayers’ and Civic Association chairman Osman Shaboodien, who strongly criticised the sale of the property in June, said the city centre was increasingly hard to live in for the working class.

“The property market in this area has a false value in the sense that we are living in a bubble,” he said.

He said they wanted the land for community housing to address overcrowding and inequality issues in the area.

Hopolang Selebalo, who is a researcher at activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, questioned the sale and said the City wasn’t doing enough to stop gentrification in the area.

“The selling of public land, with no strings attached, results in the displacement of communities. A trend that is increasingly visible in areas across Cape Town.

“If this trend goes unchecked, poor and working-class residents of Bo-Kaap will find themselves unable to afford the cost of living in the area, and will ultimately be pushed out to the peripheral areas of the City. Living in the outskirts of the City has great financial repercussions on households, and access to quality services.”

Deputy mayor Ian Nielson said the land had been sold at a fair market value.

“Cape Town is following world trends, which is determined by market forces. The property prices have rocketed in many areas such as the southern suburbs of Cape Town, the City Bowl and central city area, including the Bo-Kaap. This situation is not unique to the Bo-Kaap.”

Asked why the sale had been changed to an online auction at the last minute, Mr Nielson said: “Either method would enable the achievement of fair market value.”

Mr Neilson said contrary to the demands of the Bo-Kaap Ratepayers’ and Civic Association, the City could not ring-fence certain public assets for certain groups of residents.

“This amounts to exclusivity and not transparency in the trading of City assets, which is contrary to national legislation and City policies.”

But Mr Shaboodien disagrees.

“When the City uses national legislation it is an excuse. Bo-Kaap is unique to the rest of the country,” he said.

Barry Fourie, Western Cape regional sales manager for the Rawson Property Group, said: “Within a free market system, it is quite common for someone to buy vacant or improved land on auction and then to flip that property. Ultimately, market value is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller for a given property at a given time.

“If a property is overpriced it will usually stay on the market without selling. If it is priced at a market-related value it will sell.

“The Rawson Property Group believes in the constitutional right to own, sell and buy property. We are also very aware of the historical injustices of the past and the sensitivity around land issues, but these issues are to be resolved by government and their appropriate bodies.

“As a responsible business, we support any initiative to redress the injustices of the past.”