Ties of kinship are still strong in Laudium, where some families have lived for 30 to 40 years. But while the area is well-located, residents are increasingly aware of rising crime.
Laudium was declared an Asian group area under the apartheid era Group Areas Act of 1966, which put paid to multicultural neighbourhoods by demarcating residential areas along racial lines.
The land was vacant at the time, so the suburb was created from scratch, says Kevin Kager, a consultant for Seeff Centurion, who has handled several transactions.
Although its origins are steeped in the injustices of the past, there’s no denying the suburb’s strategic location.
“Laudium offers residents quick access into Pretoria, Centurion and other surrounding centres. It’s also fairly easy to get to places like Krugersdorp from here.”
Kager says the neighbourhood houses business owners with enterprises in Marabastad, the renowned bargains hub adjacent to Pretoria Central and written about by writer Es’kia Mphahlele.
Of late Laudium has become popular with military personnel, says Kager, and it’s not difficult to see why, with military bases clustered nearby: Thaba Tshwane, which is a stone’s throw from Pretoria Central; Air Force Base Swartkop in Valhalla; and Air Force Base Waterkloof in Lyttelton Manor. Kager says Laudium was also traditionally convenient for people working at the PPC cement plant in Hercules.
The bonds of kinship hold strong and most properties have been in the hands of the same families for 30 to 40 years or more. This reflects in the over-65s at 45% of total ownership, being the largest home-owning demographic, according to statistics from Lightstone.
The close family ties and parallel spirit of community impact ownership patterns, notes Kager, giving rise to a culture of direct referrals. This mean a property can change hands without necessarily going through the usual market channels.
Signs of a close-knit community are also evident in locally based and homegrown associations such as the Laudium Tamil Association (established in 1961), Laudium Care Services for the Aged, Laudium Employment Agency and Laudium Cricket Club.
The original council homes usually consisted of three bedrooms and a bathroom, but today it is “mixed in terms of type of property and style”, says Kager. It is common to find a sumptuous two-storey property adjacent to a former council house.
A number of the original inhabitants have moved out as more foreign nationals, notably Pakistanis, move in, drawn to the area by familiar culture, says Kager.
Some factors which have led to migration from Laudium include overcrowding and an influx of businesses. Traditionally known for its thriving home-based business sector, today Laudium has seen more homes being turned into businesses or home-based business premises.
“Laudium was a place where you could sleep with your doors unlocked but this is no longer the case,” says Kager, noting perceptions that crime levels have increased.
Destinations for former residents include the nearby suburbs of Monavoni and Valhalla in Centurion.
It would be fair to say Laudium is currently a buyer’s market, says Kager. A property that would have fetched R1.6-million would get R1m today, if it well-kept.
Laudium boasts a number of luxurious properties. In recent years the area has become popular with military personnel due to its proximity to major bases.pictures: john makoni
Tall buildings are now perched on what was vacant ground a few decades ago.
Most homes have been upgraded from the original humble council houses.