Protesters say prostitutes lower their homes’ values

2013-10-28 00:00

GLENWOOD residents believe the rise in prostitution in the suburb may contribute to decreasing property values.

However, statistics indicate that while crime has increased in the area, property prices have remained consistent and have risen sharply over the past decade.

The Bulwer Community Safety Forum held a picket on Saturday on the corner of Ester Roberts Road (Frere Road) and Clark Road, where prostitutes are said to be a frequent occurrence. The forum called the picket “just the beginning” of a sustained campaign to push the prostitutes out of the area.

The forum believes if it can rid the area of prostitution, crime will decrease. They believe the suburb will then remain a good place to live for families and protect business owners and property owners. It boasts several of Durban’s top primary and secondary schools, hospitals, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, sports clubs and a trendy café culture.

The forum sees prostitution as the “single biggest threat” to their largely middle-class community.

But data released by the renowned property aggregating organisation Lightstone revealed the average house prices in the area over the past decade have nearly doubled from R620 000 to just over R1,2 million. Sectional titles have seen similar growth over the same period.

It was also found that over the past three months financial institutions have approved over R24 million in ordinary loans.

According to Media24’s property website, Property24, there are currently 24 properties up for rental in Glenwood. Property24 further indicates there are about 200 homes on sale, between R6,5 million and R260 000. These range from 10-bedroom homes to one-bedroom flats.

However, Glenwood ward councillor Nicole Graham said the reality is that the rise in prostitution will depress the local housing market and force businesses to relocate.

“While we understand prostitution is linked to socio-economic reasons, one cannot deny that it is negatively affecting property prices and business confidence in the Glenwood area. Businesses are relocating and people are moving,” said Graham.

Louise Stenhouwer, secretary of the Bulwer Community Safety Forum, said the prostitutes defecate on their driveways, have sex in the open and flash children. Stenhouwer believes there is a link between their presence and rising crime.

“Prostitution is illegal. We just want them out of the area. They bring with them an unsavoury element. They are brazen and increasingly aggressive,” she said.

The forum’s chairperson Heather Rorick said it is contemplating a night picket.

“We are not going to let this issue go. Good families are being affected, as are businesses. This is simply not right. Houses are being sold and auctioned because the prostitutes linger outside homes and driveways,” said Rorick.

Rawsons Berea real estate agent Mahomed Jooma said that all crime, not just prostitution, was negatively affecting Glenwood’s property pricing. But he said that the suburb was still the most sought after area in central Durban, ahead of Morningside.

“The area has great facilities such as hospitals and schools. Upper Glenwood is seeing its prices hold, while lower Glenwood prices are lowering. However, this is good for low-income buyers and first-time buyers. The down side is that crime in the area is an issue, which is driving the prices in lower Glenwood down,” said Jooma.

His sentiment is echoed in the 2012/13 SAPS statistics released in September. Numbers show a steady increase in residential burglary from an all-time low this decade of 558 in 2009/10 to 772 in the last reported financial year. Other indicators that have spiked are theft out of motor vehicles, up 311 incidents from 2011/12 to 932. Theft of motor vehicles has increased steadily over the past three years.

Glenwood resident Sandile Mthethwa, who also owns a printing business on lower Clark Road, said he continuously chases away prostitutes near his business.

“They are migrating from Point Road looking for new territory and they will continue to look for new territory if they are not stopped now. It is immoral what is going on,” said Mthethwa.

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