As Cape Town residents continue to fight for a space within the City’s ever changing suburbs, one community is saying that it will not bow to the threat of gentrification. With its vibrantly painted homes and colourful Cape Malay culture, the Bo-Kaap area was once again thrown into the spot light when a piece of land in Rose Street was placed on sale to private contractors. Despite numerous objections from the community, the land was subsequently sold for R1.4 million in an online auction to a private buyer.
This sale comes just as the Bo-kaap community was denied an appeal that requested the City not to construct a retail block between Longmarket and Shortmarket Streets. Residents are now concerned that their community will eventually be forced to leave the area as rates and taxes increase.
Bo-Kaap Civic Association chairperson, Osman Shamsoodien explained that the property, which was previously owned by the City, has been placed on the open market.
“One of the things that the City is planning is to sell the City to the highest bidder; as much as they play lip service about how lower-income people should move back into the City, that is not the action,”Shamsoodien added.
He says that the Bo-Kaap land that is up for sale is the first stretch of land that the City is attempting to sell on the open market since 1994.
The successful sale of this piece of land, he notes will set a precedent for the continued gentrification of Cape Town.
In a show of solidarity with Bo-Kaap residents, young artists have protested using numerous walls in the area as canvasses of expression, which Shamsoodien asserts is a positive sign.
“This is an encouraging sign, because the future belongs to the youth. This battle is for the youth, since one of the challenges that we have is that we cannot afford houses – never mind the youth.”
In order to address the concerns of residents, Shamsoodien confirmed that the Bo-Kaap Civic Association met with the City and indicated that the association is prepared to partner with the City in order to take over the land and construct social housing.
“We made it clear that there is a need to solve the overcrowding situation in Bo-Kaap and that we would not like to see the City nor us gentrifying the City”
While the association is hoping to be granted a lasting agreement from the City, which guarantees that Bo-Kaap land will not be sold but developed, Shamsoodien says that the association wrote to Mayor Patricia de Lille to stop the sale.
Shamsoodien says that he is hopeful that the Mayor will act kindly and reverse the sale since election period is drawing closer as “All councillors are responsible for their constituencies While concerns of gentrification of land are not restricted to the Bo-Kaap area, Shamsoodien affirmed that the Association has received far reaching support, including international shows of solidarity.