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Tuesday Oct 04, 2016

Row over sale of historic Bo-Kaap property

A piece of Bo-Kaap land sold by the City via an online auction for R1.4 million in June is now on sale for almost R3m.

The plot of land in Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, that is on sale

According to an advert in a property publication, there are building plans in place which can be submitted to the City for approval.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association and Ndifuna Ukwazi, an NGO which works to advance urban land justice, are now crying foul.

They say the City should have had plans in place to ensure the original buyer was going to develop the property for the betterment of the community. They say it's a shame the land was now being sold at double what was paid for it.

However, deputy mayor and Mayco member of finance Ian Nielson said the land was sold for a fair market value, as required by the municipal asset transfer regulations.

A researcher at the NGO, Hopolang Selebalo, said the City sold the land for far less than what it could have gone for. Selebalo said the City should have considered the community's social needs before selling the land.

The 140m2 property in Rose Street used to have stables and was a parking bay for horse carts.

Selebalo said: "The disposal of public land without considering its social value means disregarding the community. The fact that the buyer is selling the land at double the price shows the City sold it for far less than it's worth. It's bizarre for government officials to sell public land for financial gain.

"The community has an interest in that land. But now the City is pushing them out of their area."

Ratepayers' Association chairperson Osman Shaboodien said the City sold the land for a profit while disregarding the concerns of those in the area. He said the selling of their land must be stopped.

"The person who bought the land was not interested in developing the area; it was just to make a quick profit.

"The land was sold urgently. We did not get time to figure out what was happening. The City should not have put our land on open market.

"We needed that land for social housing. We have a problem of overcrowding here. Now our children have to find houses far away. We needed the land for continuation of our culture."

Shaboodien and Selebalo said the City kept on pushing gentrification. The information on the advert was testament to this, they said, as it said the land was ideal for a home or a boutique bed and breakfast.

Neilson said the subsequent sale of the property was a private matter that was dictated by the market.

"All members of the Bo-Kaap community were free to bid on the land during the auction, but the City cannot restrict who submits bids to buy land," he said.

There were six registered bidders for the land. On the day of the auction, the community protested the sale.

Shaboodien has rejected Neilson's assertion that the community was given a chance to bid. He said the City was driven by a capitalist agenda into selling Bo-Kaap land.

Cape Times

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