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No money for water and toilets at Khoisan land occupation in Grabouw, MPs told

No money for water and toilets at Khoisan land occupation in Grabouw, MPs told
The Theewaterskloof Municipality says it has no money to provide services such as water and toilets to people occupying land in the Khoisan settlement of Knoflokskraal in Grabouw. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, which owns the land, plans to have a meeting with the community this month.

Theewaterskloof Municipality has no money to provide basic services such as water and toilets to people occupying land in the Khoisan settlement of Knoflokskraal in Grabouw, Western Cape, according to councillor Derick Appel.

Briefing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment on Tuesday, Appel said Theewaterskloof was suffering financially and therefore had no budget to provide basic services to about 4,000 people living in the settlement.

GroundUp first reported on the occupation of 1,800 hectares in June 2022. The original occupiers, who moved onto the land in 2020, planned to establish a self-sustaining Khoisan community. Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, told the committee that the land is earmarked for forestry plantations and not human settlements.

Since then the occupation has grown substantially. The land, which is owned by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), was first managed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).

However, the DFFE indicated in September 2022 that it planned to hand management of the land back to the DPWI because it failed to come to an agreement with the residents. The handover is to be finalised by the end of this financial year.

Read in Daily Maverick: 

DFFE minister Barbara Creecy washes hands of controversial Knoflokskraal community occupation

Khoisan settlement edges closer to eviction from forestry department land in Grabouw

During the briefing on Tuesday, Appel said the Theewaterskloof Municipality needed the provincial or national governments to give them resources so that they could provide proper services to Knoflokskraal.

Penny Penxa, DPWI Western Cape regional manager, told Parliament that since the Grabouw land invasion steering committee had been established, the DPWI had met the SAPS, the municipality, local farmers, the Grabouw Development Agency (GDA) and the Knoflokskraal Royal Authority, among others.

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Penxa said the steering committee is in talks with Infrastructure South Africa, a DPWI-run programme, about a plan to develop Knoflokskraal.

She said there were many different Khoisan groups at Knoflokskraal. They planned to host a “broader and inclusive community meeting” later this month so that community representatives could be elected to join the steering committee.

The Knoflokskraal Royal Authority, which consists of different Khoisan groups, also briefed MPs. They reiterated the community’s need for basic services such as toilets.

‘Serious crisis’

ANC MP Simphiwe Mbatha raised concerns about contradictory reports to the committee from the two departments. She said the DPWI must resolve the issue of basic services urgently, and that it would be a “serious crisis” if no resources are provided to the people Knoflokskraal.

DA MP David Bryant criticised the DPWI for its slow response in dealing with this problem and that the department “really needs to take this up and resolve this issue”.

EFF MP Nazier Paulsen said that the longer they waited, the longer the basic rights of the Knoflokskraal community were being violated.

Chairperson Phillip Modise said a report would be written and the matter would be handed over to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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