South Africa


Lambert’s Bay – a divided Western Cape town in the midst of a crucial by-election

Lambert’s Bay – a divided Western Cape town in the midst of a crucial by-election
Lambert's Bay harbour in the small fishing town on the west coast of the Western Cape. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

In the small west coast town of Lambert’s Bay, music blared from trucks as politicians clamoured for support from residents in a hotly contested by-election where not only the ward is at stake, but also the governance of the local municipality.

Lambert’s Bay resident Susanna Kapiera (49) sat in the front yard of her home, across from Don Burrell Hall. In the area were political party tents where party members tried to garner support for their candidates. Music blared from vehicles with Democratic Alliance (DA), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and African National Congress (ANC) signage on them. 

Susanna Kapiera, a resident of Lambert’s Bay, says she voted because she wants job opportunities for young people. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

On Wednesday, 12 October, a by-election took place in Ward 5 of the Cederberg municipality, which covers Lambert’s Bay and surrounding areas.

The ward became vacant in July when DA ward councillor William Josef Farmer’s party membership was terminated after he voted with the opposition to remove the governing coalition of which he was part. 

Four candidates contested the by-election, which will determine who will govern the municipality through a coalition government. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “‘High stakes’ Lambert’s Bay by-election will determine who runs Cederberg municipality”

Kapiera told Daily Maverick she would vote later in the day. A carer for the elderly, Kapiera was born and raised in Lambert’s Bay. She wanted to vote because she felt job creation was needed, particularly because if young people don’t work, “they fall into drugs”.

During Daily Maverick’s visit to Lambert’s Bay, several people pointed out how difficult the by-election campaign had been, and there were allegations of people being given R100 to vote for parties and food parcels being handed out. 

“I’ve noticed there was negativity,” said Kapiera. “If they [politicians] are so negative towards each other, how can they bring positivity to the town?”

Kapiera said the new councillor needed to unite Lambert’s Bay.

In another part of the ward, some 20km away, lies the little village of Leipoldtville, comprised mainly of farmworkers and workers in small stores. 

The village’s voting station was at the Vrye Gereformeerde Kerk. While the DA tent was quiet, music was playing at the PA and ANC tents. 

Pensioner Lutucesia Boois believes nothing will change after Wednesday’s vote. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Lutucesia Boois (60) has lived in the village since birth. She stood watching the voting station, where she had recently voted. 

Boois said that living in Leipoldtville was pleasant, but there was a lack of facilities for young people. 

“For young people, here’s no future because it’s just drugs,” she said as three young women sat in the front yard of a house and smoked from a hookah pipe. 

“In Liepoldtville, there are no activities for young people — here’s no crèche either for our children — so actually there’s nothing happening,” she added.  

Other issues include a lack of service delivery, including a lack of flush toilets in most houses.

Boois said the new councillor “needs to please give his attention to the people of Leipoldtville”. This included building a new community hall. “We can’t host everything at the church. Everything we want to do, weddings, twenty-firsts, we have to host it at the church.” 

She said there was also a need for a rugby field and a park which children and young people can use. 

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

After the 2021 local government elections, the DA, local party Cederberg Eerste (CE) and the Freedom Front Plus formed a coalition government. Dr Ruben Richards from Cederberg Eerste was mayor until July, when Farmer went against his own coalition and voted to remove Richards from his post. According to News24, this was because of allegations of fraud and corruption against Richards.  

On Wednesday, four candidates were vying for the position of councillor: Farmer (PA), Beverly van der Heever Schalk (ANC), Ferdinand Fransman (Economic Freedom Fighters) and John Hayes (DA). Big names that were in attendance during Wednesday’s by-election included DA Federal Council Chair Helen Zille and PA leaders Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene.

William Josef Farmer, Patriotic Alliance candidate for the by-elections in Lamberts Bay. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Dr John Hayes won the by-election for the Democratic Alliance in Lambert Bay by-elections. (Photo: Brenton Geach)


EFF canditate Ferdinand Fransman says that unemploymentand housing are big problems in Lambert’s Bay. He spoke on the sidelines of a by-election that took place on 13 October 2022. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Democratic Alliance Federal council chairperson Helen Zille and patriotic Alliance deputy president Kenny Kunene during Wednesday’s by-election in Lamberts Bay. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Farmer, the former Cederberg council Speaker, is a lifelong resident of Lambert’s Bay and the son of a fisherman and factory worker. He said he had brought up issues about an alleged land transaction by one of the coalition partners, which led to Richards’ removal from office.  

He said he had joined the PA because the party does most of its work in the community. The new councillor, he said, should “come back to the community and say, ‘Thank you for putting your trust in me’, and deliver a quality service”.

“Lambert’s Bay is a fantastic town,” said Hayes, the DA’s candidate and the town’s medical doctor. However, he said, there had been arguments in the town over allegations of bribery and intimidation.

“I expected [this], but it’s difficult to see and to hear. What’s heartbreaking is that you can’t do anything about it,” he said.

“For me, it’s about political stability, and if we win, we are here for the community.” 

EFF candidate Fransman told Daily Maverick the biggest problems in the ward included unemployment and housing. If elected, Fransman said he would look at job policies aimed at people aged over 35, as they were the ones that paid the bills.

“At the end of the day, the ward councillor has the vote of the community. If there is a need for housing, they need to deliver,” said Fransman.

When Daily Maverick approached ANC candidate Van der Heever Schalk for an interview, she asked another ANC member if this was allowed. He said no without an explanation and she declined to speak.

Lambert’s Bay harbour in the small fishing town on the west coast of the Western Cape. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Whoever wins this crucial by-election will form either a DA/CE/FF+ coalition or an ANC/PA coalition. 

“It’s a make-or-break election,” said Richards.

Richards said that when he was mayor, he called upon people to invest in the municipality and even asked friends to open factories in the region, which is dependent on fishing and farming. However, people would back out when they found out about the council’s instability. “Phone me when you’re stable,” they told Richards.

He was there to support Hayes in his bid to become ward councillor, and said the new councillor “needs to build bridges, because it’s very divided”.

The results of the by-election will be confirmed on Thursday by the Electoral Commission. DM

Update on Thursday morning: The DA has retained Ward 5, allowing the party and its coalition partners to take back control of Cederberg. Read the report here by Daily Maverick elections analyst Wayne Sussman.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • André Pelser says:

    There should be a public debate about local economic development before such an bye-election, only economic growth and development can address the main issues – employment and housing.
    Changing party for material gain is a big problem, also unsubstantiated allegations. Surely it should be possible to expose the truth?

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