Soweto at a glance
On the border of the city of Johannesburg’s mining belt in the south, likes the trendy and vibrant Soweto. Although the name Soweto is an abbreviation for South Western Townships, this metropolitan area, filled with diverse cultures, hardly fits the stereotypical definition of a township anymore. It is rumoured that there are more millionaires living in Soweto than anywhere else in South Africa.
Soweto is also the richest in South Africa when it comes to history. Klipspruit was the first suburb to be established in 1904, when apartheid began spreading with massive force. Initially this first suburb was created to segregate the population on racial grounds. Since then, apartheid has crumbled and Soweto has evolved into a thriving metropolis of over forty suburbs.
Nearly 40 percent of Johannesburg's residents live in this buzzing section of the City of Gold. Soweto houses range from shacks and government housing in poorer suburbs, to multi-million rand mansions in upmarket areas. Being an international tourist destination and gaining popularity year on year, Soweto has become a brand all of its own. The brightly painted Orlando towers are recognised around the world and the flood of tourism has caused the market value of property in Soweto to soar.
Soweto estate agents can barely keep up with the demand in upmarket suburbs such as Diepkloof Extension. Houses are often priced well over the R3 million mark. What makes Soweto a particularly attractive part of Johannesburg to invest in, however, is that you can start small (in the North West and South East) and work your way up (in the South West). Houses start from under R400 000 in some suburbs, and depending on budget, there are several options for both new home owners and established investors.
Soweto has changed dramatically since its apartheid years. It is now a thriving city all of its own within Johannesburg. Tree-lined parks with benches and walkways are common. Electrical and road infrastructure is some of the best in South Africa, and restaurants, night clubs, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and multiple heritage sites have been created. One of the most upmarket shopping centres in the country, Maponya Mall, houses all of the major local and international brands as well as a massive cinema complex.
Soweto is the South African trendsetter in fashion, music, dance, sport, medicine and politics. It is credited as one of the founding places for Kwaito and Kasi Rap, the unique hip-hop style that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Soweto is also home to two of the world’s best soccer teams: the Kaizer Chiefs and the Moroka Swallows. The Orlando Pirates, as their name implies, originated here too. The magnificent Soccer City Stadium hosted the opening and closing of the Soccer World Cup in 2010, an event still spoken about around the world.
The Soweto Wine Festival attracts over 6000 wine enthusiasts every year and is represented by 100 of South Africa’s finest wineries, with over 900 wines. This three-night festival takes place on the Soweto Campus of the University of Johannesburg in Chris Hani Road in the first week of September.
The name Chris Hani is also synonymous with the largest hospital in the world. The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Diepkloof, Soweto, occupies 173 acres and has 3200 beds and over 6700 staff members. Leading doctors and specialists from around the globe visit this hospital for further training and research opportunities.
Other Soweto landmarks include Freedom Square Memorial, the Orlando Towers, the Soweto Hall of Fame, Walter Sisulu Square, and the Freedom Towers. Many famous apartheid strugglers once lived in Soweto, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Walter Sisulu. Our very own Nelson Mandela spent many years living in Soweto and his home in Orlando is a major tourist attraction.
Soweto is the fastest growing section of Johannesburg, and being a prime tourist destination, property prices will only escalate. It is place to be for up and coming business owners, investors and, of course, home owners.
Suburbs in Soweto