Cape Town - The City of Cape Town made over R21 million on the sale of vacant land and properties it auctioned off on Thursday.
Despite uproar and picketing by housing and land groups, the auction went ahead as planned.
The auction included a City-owned property that was sold for the whopping sum of R10m. The property is in Newlands, close to SA Junior College School.
The City could not confirm the money made from the auction, but the Weekend Argus saw the auction that was held virtually. A total of R21 410 000 was made from the sale of the properties.
Land and housing groups have been objecting to the sale of City-owned vacant land and asked the municipality to consider affordable housing, rather than auctioning. The municipality is facing a housing backlog that dates back to the 90s.
There were about 347 000 registered applicants on the City’s Housing Needs Register.
The groups tried with no luck to disrupt the auction from going ahead. The City, however, did remove three properties from the auction after the backlash it received.
The City said the Housing Development Agency (HDA) had expressed formal interest in three of the sites, resulting in its withdrawal from the auction. They are the Eastridge, Mitchells Plain site and two small adjacent sites on College Road, Claremont.
Head of research and advocacy at Ndifuna Ukwazi, Michael Clark, said the money raised as a result of the public land auction offered the City an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and fund genuinely pro-poor projects.
These had been deprioritised in the past, largely on the basis that funds weren't available.
“This could include using the funds to prepare and assemble land that can be used to build well-located social and affordable housing, investing in transitional housing and alternative accommodation to support unhoused people and households facing evictions.”
He added that while the shortage of affordable housing was an urgent need, the need for basic services was also a space of pressing need.
“A tangible commitment to one, or a few of these kinds of projects, would finally demonstrate the City’s commitment to putting the needs of the poorest residents first. Otherwise, stripping public assets for financial gain and not contributing to the need of the public is morally reprehensible.”
Makalunge Sopiseka, a shack dweller from Khayelitsha, said affordable housing for them would remain a dream. “If the municipality keeps on selling land, we will never get affordable housing closer to the CBD. Private developers will prioritise profit and we will not be able to afford moving from the township.”
Reclaim the City leader Karen Hendricks said the public was kept in the dark about the auctions.
“There are no public participation processes for communities to engage with the City around access to these pieces of land, whether it be for housing or cultural or recreational purposes. Instead, these properties were being sold to private developers.”
Mayco member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi told the Cape Argus: ”The City’s social housing projects, which will benefit thousands of beneficiaries, are under way across various well-located areas of the metro, such as Fruit and Veg in Zonnebloem, Pine Road and Dillon Road in Woodstock, and Salt River Market.“
Alderman James Vos, the Mayco Member for Economic Growth, denied that the public was not included in the process.
“This is a baseless accusation. Prior to putting a property to the market, the intention is advertised for public comment, which includes obtaining comments from the national and Western Cape government, sub-councils, ward councillors, and the general public.
“The monies received from disposals are used towards funding the service delivery costs of the city as a whole.”
He said he could not confirm how much they would receive as the information wasn’t available yet