• LOCATION 1 | A Community in Crisis: Gentrification in Woodstock and Salt River

    Start: Woodstock Co-op

    You should be standing in front of the Woodstock Co-op, facing Albert Road.

    My name is Christine. I'm an editor at VoiceMap and a freelance writer. I live and work in Woodstock and I have spent the past few months researching a trend that has had a profound impact here and in Salt River. The trend is urban regeneration, or gentrification. Take your pick.

    I’ve spoken to residents, researchers, and other stakeholders to try and understand urban regeneration. What effects does it have on communities? Who feels these effects? And because the very idea of regeneration implies a vision for the future, what does the approach taken here say about South Africa and its idea of progress?

    One of the recent cases that has drawn a lot of media attention is the Bromwell Street eviction. 43 residents, including 19 children, are facing an eviction by the Woodstock Hub. The court said the eviction was fair and equitable, although most residents will probably end up being homeless, or displaced to far-out temporary relocation areas. I spoke to them before November 2016, when they were still waiting to hear if the City of Cape Town will provide them with emergency alternative accommodation. I have also included some snippets from a Cape Talk radio show, where Emile Engel of Ndifuna Ukwazi, and Jacques van Embden of the Woodstock Hub, speak to the matter.

    “We grew up in these houses and it’s not a kwaai feeling to go live in another place now because of gangsterism, and people getting killed and so, so that’s why we don’t actually want to move from here. Yah.” (Graham Beukes)

    “I’m Charnelle Commando and I’ve been living here for 29 years, that’s all my life.”

    "The reality is that there is an eviction order, that the Woodstock Hub has the choice to effect that eviction order or not, and that these families in Bromwell Street are going to be evicted and many of them, most of them actually, don’t know where they are going to go and will likely be evicted into homelessness." Emile Engel, Ndifuna Ukwazi on Cape Talk

    “When the Hub purchased the properties, we actually contracted with the seller that the properties would be vacant on occupation. He indicated to us that they were all leases that they were in control of, and that the properties would be vacant." Jacques van Embden, Director of the Woodstock on Cape Talk

    You’ll hear these voices again later, in the places most connected to their story.

    Today you're going to walk through a part of Woodstock, one of Cape Town's oldest suburbs, and touch on the edges of Salt River, once the industrial heart of Cape Town. Historically, these two neighbourhoods have some differences. Woodstock managed to evade the Group Areas Act, remaining a mixed-race area throughout apartheid. But Salt River was designated a coloured area, and was known to be multireligious.

    Let's get started. If you’re facing the road, head left towards the Biscuit Mill and Salt River Circle.

    Each track of this tour will be played automatically, so you can just put your phone away now, and listen to me for directions.

    I hope that this walk will help to make the complexities of gentrification real for you. But it’s important to remember that it is just that – it's very real for the people facing eviction. Please be respectful when looking at people’s houses and try not to intrude on their privacy.

    Crime is a risk in many neighbourhoods, and our route today is no exception. Don't do this tour at night. The people here are generally open and happy to engage, but please don't take any photos without asking permission.

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A Community in Crisis: Gentrification in Woodstock and Salt River