Bo-Kaap 'being lost to gentrification'

By Aziz Hartley Time of article published Feb 4, 2005

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The court tussle between the tenants of flats in the Bo-Kaap and their new owners has underlined the need to protect the area from gentrification, residents say.

Tenants were evicted from four flats to make way for their legal owners this week - only for the owners to be evicted later.

"Bo-Kaap is the cradle of Islam in SA and has a rich history," said Osman Shaboodien, chair of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association. "If it is worthy of preservation, it is crucial for all stakeholders to (work) to save it."

Gentrification had become such a problem that residents were forming a trust they hoped would help protect the character of the area, Shaboodien said.

He said 10 percent of almost 1 000 homes in the area had been sold to outside prospectors.

"The character of this place has diminished significantly. This is why we want to... fast- track the trust we want to have in place by September. The intention is to have some control over vacant land, developments and selling of houses. The minute there is a 50 percent swing to home ownership by speculators, we'll have a migrant situation."

The tenants of flats at Leeuwen Mansions were evicted by the sheriff of the court this week. The owner had gone to court after a prolonged stand-off with the tenants, who had lived there for more than 10 years.

The tenants, who claimed the previous owner had promised to sell the flats to them, then gained an urgent order allowing them to remain.

Anwah Nagia, spokesperson for the Leeuwen Mansions Association and chair of the Anti-Gentrification Front, said they were pleased to have a reprieve.

The parties are to return to court next week.

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