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Monday Jul 17, 2017

Sydenham's depreciating property values due to land invasions

Buying a property in an urban area is considered a long term investment with good returns.

This was what members of Foreman Road Ratepayers in Sydenham, Durban, were hoping to achieve when they bought their houses years ago.

The shacks in between the tress of Sydenham.

But for the past few years, Sydenham and Clare Estate residents have been plagued by land invasions which woefully affected their property values and made them live in constant fear.

After failing to sell their properties on their own, they are now pleading with the city to buy them out. They said all their properties have lost their value because of shack dwellers invading the areas.

They were regularly subjected to violent service delivery protests and road closures, as informal dwellers would demand houses from the city.

Some irked property owners have abandoned their houses which are now occupied by vagrants.

A frustrated property owner, Shailendra Matai, owns three properties in Foreman Road. He has tried all avenues to report land invasion without any success.

"For the past three years I have been trying to sell my properties without any luck. But I understand no person would like to spend money on this place.

At first, people would show interest until they see this place, it is in a state of despair and the city has failed us," he said.

Residents claimed that, while they were confused by the invasion, the city proposed to install electricity for dwellers in the informal settlement.

They have endured the smell of filth, water and electricity break downs as informal dwellers would illegally make connections to their shacks.

Matai said they are willing to offer their properties to the municipality because they have proposed development and it was highly impossible to remove the invaders.

"They know our plea. We have spent a lot buying these houses and we never thought it would come to the point where no one is willing to buy them from us. We are willing to take any compensation that will help us to get houses elsewhere".

Another ratepayer, who refused to be named, said it would make things easier for both sides if the city bought them out.

"The protest is costing the city and one innocent child died recently during the protest. We are making an offer to the municipality to rectify this crisis, he said.

DA ward councillor Hassan Haniff blamed the municipality for failing ratepayers. He said he tried liaising with all relevant departments, to address the issue of land invasion, illegal connections and escalating crime, but yielded no result.

"There is no protection for ratepayers. Many desperate residents from this area want to sell their properties but they cannot and it is very sad. Some were born in this area, it has sentimental value to them. I have raised the issue with human settlements and water and sanitation regarding the purchase of these properties. We are waiting for a response," said Haniff.

City’s spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said property valuations were based on market value and market forces within a particular neighbourhood or street at a given time.

She encouraged property owners who felt aggrieved by property valuations to lodge objections.

She confirmed that the city had embarked on an informal settlement electrification programme.

"Private property owners who have land under threat of being invaded are urged to apply for court orders to protect their property from land invasion and should report trespassing immediately to the SAPS."

City Watch
Sunday Tribune

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