‘Forced to sell as rates have doubled’
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Cape Town - Steep rates increases because of overinflated valuations on properties in Woodstock and Salt River brought on by multimillion-rand developments have forced owners to sell.
Homeowners who have been living in the areas for generations say their rates have doubled since the gentrification of the areas started and many were forced to sell.
Ian Mitchell, who has been living in Woodstock for 19 years, explained that their rates increased gradually over the years.
“We bought this house for R100 000. You have a situation where the value of your property has increased substantially. But this also means that your rates have automatically increased too.
“Our rates have now doubled. This means if your house is worth R2 million, your bond has increased to R20 000 and your rates are now R2 000.
“Some people have moved because they cannot afford to stay in Woodstock anymore due to the rates which have increased so dramatically.
Another resident who moved into the area 10 years ago, Omar Badsha, said: “We are going the same way as other cities around world. We are conforming to the needs of a small minority. And you are finding that the rates have increased drastically.
“This gentrification started 10 years ago and that is why the rates have increased. I've seen how people have been moving out because of this. It's a worrying thing.”
Another person, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that he is in the process of selling his flat.
“In 2015 my flat was worth R995 000 and it is now R1.6 million. Within a year and a half it has increased to this amount. But now I have a huge problem of the increase in rates which I can’t afford to pay anymore. I was forced to sell my flat and move,” he said.
The gentrification of Woodstock over the past 10 years has had a harsh effect on poor communities. People who stayed in rented homes for generations were evicted and had nowhere to go. Some moved to Blikkiesdorp in Delft and others are now staying in wooden structures in the backyards of other people.
Meanwhile, the organisation Reclaim the City, which has been opposing the eviction of people from Woodstock and Salt River, said the Helen Bowden Nurses Home in Green Point was invaded on Wednesday night by eight armed men. The building has been illegally occupied by a group of people.
Shane van der Mescht said: “We were inside the building when we suddenly heard a noise. It was about 8.30pm. They stormed the room we were in, and we immediately barricaded it with tables. Some of them broke the windows from the outside.
“One of the men was hit in the face with the back of their rifles. But we fought them off… They were armed with pangas and guns,” he said.
Nkosikhona Swaartbooi from Ndifuna Ukwazi said many elderly residents were terrified.
“South African Police Service members arrived on the scene in minutes. The attackers fled and were pursued. At least five were apprehended and taken to the Sea Point police station for questioning. Later, one of the guns was found.”