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Joburg is deceiving us - residents

Johannesburg -

The City of Joburg has been accused of being deceitful and underhanded by residents of Orange Grove, Norwood and Bramley who live near the new Rea Vaya route.

A Rea Vaya bus is seen at the Orlando bus stop in Soweto, Johannesburg. File photo: Leon Nicholas. Credit: INLSA

This follows a report in The Star last week about property owners on the bus route being approached by estate agents, asking them if they wanted to sell their properties.

The agents were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, and were not allowed to tell the owners that it was the city who wanted to buy their properties.

When the owners found out, it created fear, confusion and concern, with many people fearing their properties would be expropriated.

The residents have also not been told why the city wants their properties, or what is going to be built next to them or around them, if they refused to sell.

It has also caused panic in suburbs bordering Orange Grove such as Norwood, Orchards and Victoria, which could also be affected by developments.

Orange Grove ward councillor Marcelle Ravid and Mervyn Cirota, DA MPL and the party’s Gauteng spokesman on housing, have expressed anger about the way the city is going about it.

Cirota was “horrified by the clandestine activity of city officials”.

Residents of Orange Grove, Norwood, Victoria and Orchards have, through their residents’ associations, expressed their outrage and disappointment at the underhanded and secretive approach by the city, he said.

“This non-disclosure had the intention of enticing and influencing residents to sell their properties. The failure to engage in a public participation process has created fear and suspicion, and should be strongly condemned.

“We are calling on the city to explain what is happening, what mandates have been given to agents, and to provide transparency and accountability.”

Ravid said a meeting was held last week with estate agents, the Joburg Property Company and the city’s development planning department, where some irregularities emerged.

“No one is going to be forced to sell their house - it is not meant to be an aggressive approach,” she added.

Despite requests for clarification by The Star, neither the Joburg Development Agency nor the City of Joburg responded.

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