Residents of Afrikaner enclave want to be integrated into City of Tshwane

Discontented Kleinfontein residents question company rule under share block scheme


“Kleinfontein was founded with good intentions; a place where mainly retired people could live together in safety and harmony,” resident Paul McMenamin wants to make clear to GroundUp.

“Kleinfontein was founded with emphasis placed on the Afrikaner Culture and Christianity, where residents could celebrate and enjoy their faith and the sincere Afrikaner tradition,” he says.

“The problems started when a small group of people, who have found themselves in a position of power, misused their power for self gain.”

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Kleinfontein, east of Pretoria, started as a co-operative in 1996 as the new South Africa emerged. It has since been described as a “lingering outpost of apartheid” by The Washington Post and The Guardian in 2013, and as South Africa’s white only enclave on CNN.

GroundUp was warned not to attempt to take photos of the statues of Paul Kruger or Hendrik Verwoerd inside the town.

Infighting

But the community is no longer living as harmoniously as its founders might have hoped. Members of the Kleinfontein Residence Association (KRA) have dragged share block company Kleinfontein Aandeleblok (Pty) Ltd to court. In court papers in 2022, the company said the association was “sabotaging” the scheme and had made highly defamatory comments alleging shady accounting practices. Under the KRA’s influence some 76 members were refusing to pay their rates (levies and fees for services) to the company.

Share block is an alternative form of property ownership. Under the Share Block Control Act of 1980, all property is owned by a share block / “aandeleblok” company which then sells certain rights and usage of specific immovable property to individuals. Use of the property is governed by a use agreement and a memorandum of incorporation between the company and the shareholder. This is how Kleinfontein’s sister town, Orania, is structured.

Kleinfontein share block company CEO Stefan Wiese explained that some of the 1,500 residents of the town own shares in the scheme. This gives them exclusive rights to erect dwellings on a block demarcated by a registered land surveyor in accordance with a proposed town planning scheme.

“When purchasing shareholding, the buyer also signs an extensive contract that clearly states that shares are sold and not title deeds,” said Wiese.

Unhappy with company rule

But some residents we spoke to claim this was not made clear to them before they purchased and they feel duped. They said they were surprised to receive shares, and they complain that the value of their shares is very low.

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“Kleinfontein was developed on farmland and there was never a solid application to rezone or to formalise the settlement. It is therefore practically an illegal settlement,” says McMenamin.

Johan Venter, resident and chairperson of the Kleinfontein Residence Association (KRA), says he paid R185,000 for his “stand” in 2017, and built a house for his family for a further R1.6-million.

“The owners of the company told us that this township would be formalised, but it is still informal. I’m very frustrated and feel deprived of a right to property ownership. I cannot sell the house because I don’t own the land I built it on and it is in an informal settlement,” he says.

Henk Celliers, aged 73, said he paid R160,000 in 2018 and built a house at a cost of over R2-million.

“I realised after two years that this place is an informal settlement,” said Celliers. “I’m a retired farmer and businessman. I was not given a title deed and this affected me badly. I’m one of the people who paid for the court case and we really want this place to be formalised.”

McMenamin, who owns a security company, says he paid R185,000 and built a house for R1.8-million.

“There are many elderly people who live in Kleinfontein and they invested a lot of money on properties they bought,” he says. “In 2011, the residents of Kleinfontein wanted this place to be formalised and three companies came to conduct assessments.”

McMenamin said the residents’ association, which claims to have 100 members, was formed in 2021 in part to force the board of directors of Kleinfontein Aandeleblok to prove that formalisation attempts with the City of Tshwane were being made in good faith.

In January 2022, residents, including McMenamin, Celliers and Venter, went to court to interdict Kleinfontein Aandeleblok from starting or continuing with the “unlawful” construction and development of more buildings or dwellings, or setting out any additional stands, or providing any services (water, electricity, sewerage, storm water and sanitation) to any additional stands.

They say further expansion will delay legalising the town.

The case was heard on 21 April and is awaiting judgment.

The City of Tshwane is listed as the second respondent, to compel it to enforce its land use and spatial planning management bylaws, town planning law, and national building standards and regulations.

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According to the residents litigating, “the Municipality, who decided not to oppose the application, has a statutory and constitutional obligation to enforce such legislative provisions against any person or entity contravening same”.

Formalising under Tshwane

Spokesperson for the City of Tshwane Lindela Mashigo said currently the City does not provide Kleinfontein with any basic services, such as electricity, garbage collection, tap water or sewage.

“The Kleinfontein community are settled on private land,” said Mashigo.

“The owner has responsibility to develop or formalise the land in line with the land use development bylaws.”

Kleinfontein CEO Wiese said regularising Kleinfontein had faced many challenges. This included the collapse of Kungwini Local Municipality, to which the first application was made, and the dissolution of the municipality by the Gauteng provincial government in May 2011 and its absorption into the City of Tshwane.

Wiese described Kleinfontein as an almost self-sustaining community. Electricity is supplied through a bulk Eskom supply agreement and the transmission infrastructure is wholly owned by the company.

“Water is supplied from our own resources,” said Wiese.

“Refuse removal is handled by the company on a weekly basis. A sewage plant is presently being evaluated and is to be erected to improve on the current sewerage system.”

In court papers, the company says it “has embarked on a committed campaign to formalise the Kleinfontein township, to finalise the incomplete procedures, to obtain all necessary approvals and to comply with all the statutory and other requirements, and that significant progress has been made in this regard”, even though it is not obliged to do so in terms of its memorandum of incorporation.

This article originally appeared on GroundUp and was republished with permission. Read the original article here.

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