Cape Town - Land and property rights organisations held a picket at the DHL Stadium against the City of Cape Town’s auctioning of council houses in the CBD. They said the auction would render families occupying these houses homeless and displaced.
The houses went under hammer on Thursday morning at an online auction.
The organisation, which included The Housing Assembly, Ndifuna Ukwazi, and Reclaim The City, contended that the auctioning of these homes would lead to the displacement of families who have lived at the heart of the city for over 10 years.
They urged the city to halt the auction and engage the families in finding a workable solution.
Karen Hendricks from Reclaim The City said that since the dawn of democracy, there haven’t been affordable houses built in the CBD by the City of Cape Town that will give people direct access to economic opportunities.
“As a movement fighting against the displacement of people from the inner city or well-allocated areas and also fighting for affordable housing within the inner city, we believe that where people live matters.
“Looking at how the city is anti-poor and how the city is pushing people out to the periphery of the city is just a repeat of the apartheid-style and the apartheid spatial geography that our city has.
“For us, it is important that we make them aware of what they are doing by prioritising the needs of the wealthy above those of the poor,” said Hendricks.
Mayco member for Economic Growth, James Vos, said two city-owned properties in Maynard Street were listed for auction on November 23, 2023, and that one property is currently occupied with rental arrears in excess of R200 000 and another is vacant.
“These properties form part of a de-proclaimed road scheme and are not required for municipal purposes. The city’s council confirmed that the properties are not required for the provision of basic municipal services and therefore may be disposed of via a public competitive process.
“The determination has been made to dispose of the property in question for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the city has no need to retain ownership of these houses for the ongoing provision of municipal services and has ongoing maintenance and security concerns.
“As a result, the property was placed on the list of properties to be disposed of via auction,” said Vos.
He said the City has been engaging with the tenants on this property since 2016, informing them that the city is considering the disposal of the properties on Maynard Street.
“Tenants were informed of the city’s intention to dispose of the property and that, as a result, termination of lease agreements could follow suit.”
“The best economic and social value will be derived from the release of these properties for a range of uses, from industrial to community and private-sector led residential development, depending on the zoning.
“In this way, the City is supporting our economic recovery as smart real estate transactions create jobs through construction and generate revenue for municipal service delivery,” said Vos.
On Friday, the City touted it’s auction as an overwhelming success.
Among the sites were 10 kiosks in the sought-after St Georges Mall, Waterkant and Strand Street areas in the Cape Town city centre that went to a single bidder.
A 50m² shop in the prime location of Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town was also subject to a successful bid.
“The bidding for the Jubilee Square site proves that there remains a thriving market for retail offerings in Simon’s Town, one of Cape Town’s most popular neighbourhoods in the tourist season.
“I’m also looking forward to the new opportunities that will open up for micro-businesses at the kiosks in the Cape Town city centre,” said Vos.
Vos said that the beachfront commercial premises in Fish Hoek received an overwhelming, positive response from the market.
“I was pleased to see the restaurant’s existing tenant take part in the auction. The tenant will be given notice, however, they will be able to trade at the premises during the crucial holiday season when tourists flock to our shores,” said Vos.
The auctioned properties also included residential parcels, with first time home buyers snapping up single residential sites, and a R2.3 million winning bid for a vacant property in Maynard Street, Gardens.
“Smart real estate transactions of immovable public assets underpin several elements of Cape Town’s economic recovery by generating jobs through the building process, and revenue for municipal service delivery.
“The volumes and value of property disposals and leases handled by the Property Management Department speaks to our smart real estate approach of getting the best economic and social value out of our assets.
“In total, 119 207,76 m² of City property was auctioned off yesterday – a win for the final auction this year,” said Vos.
All the property sales and leases are subject to Council approval.
* Additional reporting by Theolin Tembo.