Zonnebloem, perched just above the city centre, is overcoming its desperate apartheid history to experience increasing property sales and the arrival of bars, theatres, pubs and other attractions
Until the early 19th century, Zonnebloem was a farming estate, later becoming a suburb of Cape Town and home to freed slaves, merchants, labourers and immigrants. It is part of District Six – named thus in 1867- along with Walmer Estate and Lower Vrede.
Bounded by Sir Lowry Road to the north, Buitenkant Street to the west, Philip Kgosana Drive to the south and Mountain Road to the east, District Six became one of the apartheid era’s most shameful legacies when it was declared a whites-only area in 1966 and residents were forcibly moved to the Cape Flats. Families that resisted were sent to the furthest and now poorest parts of the Flats as punishment.
Following World War II, it was a relatively multi-racial community. Residents were largely coloured, mixed with Muslims, Xhosa and smaller numbers of Afrikaners, English-speaking whites and Indians.
Although the government had its official reasons for uprooting tens of thousands of people from the only homes they had ever known, it was suspected the real motivation was the prime location of the land, close to the city centre, Table Mountain and the harbour.
However, after the evictions and demolition of almost all the buildings, the land was left undeveloped for more than a decade, until the City of Cape Town built housing for members of the police and army services in the 1980s. The Cape Technikon, now the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, also expanded.
After democracy in 1994, restitution claims were submitted, and the slow process of rebuilding the suburb began.
Chelsea Viljoen, of Just Property, says of the Zonnebloem market: “I’ve experienced increasing interest in sales and rentals during the past year, especially from young professionals who want to be close to the CBD.
“Many investors remain skeptical about security, but I’ve seen slowly young working professionals are moving into Zonnebloem and gentrifying the area to a point where many popular locations are attracting tourists, including Charly’s Bakery and the District Six Museum.
“I’ve been working closely with many first-time investors looking to buy in the 24-hour security complexes, such as Skyways and Centreville, renovate their units and then sell or let their units on a short-term basis through Airbnb. The MyCiTi bus routes cover most of the central streets in Zonnebloem.
“I believe the value of Zonnebloem properties will rise significantly over the next few years.”