Although the Gauteng legislature has recognised Kleinfontein, a white Afrikaner-only settlement outside Pretoria, as a cultural community, the City of Tshwane won’t declare it a separate development.
The legislature’s decision comes after an investigation by its portfolio committee on community safety into an incident in which police officers were barred from entering the enclave, 30km south-east of the city in November last year, presumably because they did not fit the community’s entry requirements.
The findings of the investigation were reported in the legislature on Thursday, a meeting attended by one of Kleinfontein’s founders and the chairman of the Kleinfontein board, Jan Groenewald. He said the community co-operated fully with the legislature and said rumours that police were denied access to Kleinfontein were unsubstantiated.
The community is also in the process of applying to have Kleinfontein declared an independent legal entity within the City of Tshwane.
But while some have welcomed the acknowledgement of the settlement as a “cultural community” as a first step, the Tshwane mayor stressed that the city would not approve a whites-only township development within the capital city.
“It would be in contravention of the Bill of Rights for the City of Tshwane to approve a township development where residence was exclusive for a particular race group,” said the mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale.
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In emphasising the supremacy of the constitution and the Bill of Rights, Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramkgopa – who visited the settlement earlier in the year “to have a conversation with the community” – said every citizen had the right to “enter, remain and reside” anywhere in South Africa.
“We believe that there remains an open platform, medium and institutions for every South African to practise their legitimate cultural and religious rights, and to preserve and celebrate their heritage without demanding separate development and self-exclusion,” Manale said.
He described Kleinfontein as an informal settlement because it had not been formalised nor proclaimed as a formal township. There were about 40 such areas in the city. Groenewald attended the legislature meeting on Thursday. He said “rumours” that police were not allowed entry into Kleinfontein were unsubstantiated.
“… the investigation led to an excellent relationship between the Kleinfontein community and the legislature,” said Groenewald.
The 800ha co-operative turns 21 this year making it a year younger than its sister town, Orania. There are 450 shareholders in Kleinfontein with 300 homes and 1 000 residents – all of whom are white, Christian Afrikaners.
Those who live in Kleinfontein quote Article 185 of the constitution which defends the right to live with people of the same cultural group, language and religion.
The Freedom Front Plus welcomed the recognition of the Kleinfontein settlement as a cultural community, said Jaco Mulder, FF Plus member of the legislature in Gauteng.
Mulder, who was part of the investigation committee, said numerous misconceptions about Kleinfontein had now been cleared up.