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“De Rust Heritage Now”

November - December Newsletter # 2/2020

“Special Edition - Proposed Cellular Tower”


This is a report back on the current situation relating to the proposed cellular tower for all interested and involved parties. This follows the successful appeal made by De Rust Heritage to Heritage Western Cape on the previous approval incorrectly granted for a cellular tower of 25 m in height plus equipment, situated on Erf 204 belonging to the NG Kerk.

 In order to clarify the situation for residents, the current position in terms of the Heritage Resources Act of 1999 Section 38(2)(a) is that any application for the proposed tower now has to follow the following summarized course of action: 

A “Heritage Impact Assessment Report” has to be completed by a suitably qualified and registered Heritage Resources practitioner using the following criteria.  This has to be paid for directly by the applicant:  

  • The identification and mapping of all heritage resources in the area affected – this will include all heritage properties in the immediate area - not just the NG Kerk and Hall.
  • An assessment of the impact of the proposed development on existing heritage resources, including all heritage properties in the immediate vicinity. 
  • The results of consultation with interested and effected parties on the effect of the proposed development including other interested parties. 
  • If heritage resources are to be adversely affected the consideration of suitable alternative solutions or sites. 
  • Following the submission of the “Heritage Impact Assessment Report” it is then up to Heritage Western Cape to decide whether or not the project may go ahead and if so, what specific conditions would apply.  

The above is a condensed summary of the Heritage Resources Act Section 38(2)(a) as contained in the correspondence from Marnus Barnard of De Rust Heritage who is a member of the Greater Oudtshoorn Joint Heritage Permit Committee – see full details on the e-mail on our website 


Some Conclusions for Consideration  

In terms of the above requirements it is now up to the De Rust community – particularly those who are directly interested and affected parties.  This particularly applies to property owners in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site. Some suggested actions are as follows: 

  • Following the appointment of a registered Heritage Practitioner by Heritage Western Cape, that each and every interested and affected party ensures that they provide the required detailed feedback to the consultant involved.
  • Providing detailed information for any report to Heritage Western Cape in both written and oral format as well as to De Rust Heritage. 
  • Ensuring that the appointed Heritage Practitioner provides adequate feedback to the community prior to the submission of any report to Heritage Western Cape.
  • Following the submission of any “final report” to Heritage Western Cape that a copy of this is made available to De Rust Heritage for community feedback.  

In order to ensure an optimum result for the whole De Rust community, it will be necessary for each and every resident interested in the long-term future of the Village to properly engage in the full process.  This should then ensure a successful outcome for all concerned.       


Alan Tonkin 

De Rust Heritage 

22 November, 2020  


This newsletter can be downloaded as a pdf document here.


Further to this issue please read


Why Do Municipalities Not Uphold Their By-Laws/the Law

A Case Study from Greater Oudtshoorn 



In raising this issue I wish to point out that many attempts by both De Rust Heritage and the Joint Heritage Permit Committee in Oudtshoorn comprising Heritage Oudtshoorn Erfenis and the De Rust Heritage Conservation Association have largely proved unsuccessful in getting the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality to prosecute guilty parties over a number of years.

There are many dedicated staff employed by the Oudtshoorn Municipality and since the DA came to into power following the ANC’s earlier spell in office which bankrupted the Municipality, many of these employees have come to the fore.  However, in many cases where municipal by-laws have been flagrantly disregarded, senior municipal officials seem either unable or unwilling to use the available legal means to ensure compliance through the use of the courts. This particularly applies to the Department of Town Planning and Building Control.  

In many cases this has resulted in an increasing level of infringements and a significant lessening of the authority of the municipality.   It also results in the general devaluation of the properties in a particular area as well as lowering the rates base and consequently revenue for the municipal council. In addition, it is suggested that by applying the by-laws correctly that extra revenue would be generated towards the overall municipal budget to improve service delivery levels.


Some Quick & Easy Solutions

The required proposed course of action is not complex and relies solely on the strict application of the “rule of law” being applied in each of the following areas:  

  • Ensuring that municipal accounts do not go over 30 days – I am personally aware of some residents owing in excess of R 300k over a long period – surely the accounting and credit control function should proceed with legal action in cases such as this?
  • Ensuring that residential sites are not illegally used for business purposes without the required approved zoning permission and payment of additional municipal rates. This includes both unregistered B&B’s as well as industrial operations in residential areas. 
  • Ensuring that the National Heritage Resources Actis strictly applied – particularly in areas where existing “heritage resources” are present such as De Rust. This applies to both the Municipality as well as Heritage Western Cape where approvals have been granted in the past without sufficient due diligence having been considered.  
  • Updating the levels of fines for infringements of Municipal By-Laws to bring them in line with current day prices – making the costs of infringing painful for contraventions on a sliding scale. Ensuring that monies recovered go towards the cost recovery budgets of the initiating department/entity. Current fines are too low to deter non-compliance.       


Other Important Aspects

Currently the majority of even the best run municipalities are under-resourced and underfunded.  We believe it is critical to encourage the inputs from community groups – particularly those residents with backgrounds in management and technology among others.  However, in many cases local officials see this as an infringement of their authority even though volunteers often have unique skills currently not available at municipal level.  

In order for municipalities to succeed in the future it is absolutely essential to utilize the available community assets in order to achieve a prosperous future for all.  Neglecting these available skills often results in those with these scarce skills relocating to better resourced areas where their inputs are valued and a downgrading of the available a skills base at the local level.  


Some Conclusions

It will be seen from the above that a more stringent and focused application of the existing by-laws and National Heritage Regulations would result in increased control by municipalities such as Greater Oudtshoorn as well as providing an additional revenue flow to the Council. 

South Africa is currently facing a major crisis relating to lack of accountability at all levels.  This is the time to begin to reassert control using some of the simple and easy to implement solutions mentioned above. This is not considered an exhaustive list but is a starting point in ensuring “good governance”in the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality as well as other municipal councils around the country. The TIME IS NOWto take back the control of our future from those who are either under-resourced, incapable or corrupt. 

Based on the above, it may well be time to begin to take legal action against non-compliance by Municipal Council’s in order to achieve the required levels of service delivery.  Where there is clear evidence of lack of action by municipalities, using the legal approach used by other bodies at the National and Provincial Government level may be required in order to facilitate change.  

In concluding, it is important to note that many voluntary organizations are finding their voice across the country in a variety of communities ranging from the well resourced to those who suffer from extensive neglect.  It is up to the members of the communities involved to ensure that their elected representatives deliver on their undertakings or are replaced by those more competent and willing to challenge the status-quo. The future lies in all our hands. 

We look forward to a response from the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality in terms of the above points made. See for further information under RED NOTICES as well as the Heritage Western Cape section on the website. 

It is also intended to publish this piece on the Heritage Portal as well as passing it on to other outlets such as Carte Blanche in order to ensure as wide an audience as possible and to generate additional discussion on how to improve service delivery at the local level.  


Alan Tonkin 

De Rust Heritage Conservation Association

10 December, 2020   


Why Do Municipalities Not Uphold Their By-Laws/the Law ~ A Case Study from Greater Oudtshoorn  - download the pdf here



“De Rust Heritage Now”

October Newsletter # 1/2020

“Special Heritage Day Edition”


Following the Coronavirus Pandemic which has disrupted normal life for us all, we are now returning to our regular monthly Newsletter from September, 2020.

This month we will be celebrating Heritage Day on 24 September, 2020 and will be using this edition to showcase our area of the Klein Karoo using the recently launched Klein Karoo Heritage Eco-Trail which shows off the many outstanding features of this beautiful part of South Africa. 

Our tourism sector has been particularly hard hit during the lockdown and this is our attempt to assist in getting our local visitors back to the region. This will then allow for those in the hospitality and tourism industries to get back to work. At a later stage it is hoped that international visitors to our region will follow as a natural result, though in reality this may still take some time.

This initiative links with the “Karoo Crossing Cycle Tour” part of the Cape Cycle Tour Routes offerings, recently launched by the Premier of the Western Cape in Prince Albert on Wednesday 23 September, 2020.

Come join us and visit this unique part of the Western Cape and meet our amazing cultural mix of friendly folk who will make your stay a never to be forgotten experience.  This should be part of every persons “bucket list” in helping get our country up and running again.  See you soon!     


Spectacular Cycle Trails in the Klein Karoo RegionThe road through Meiringspoort today...The road through Meiringspoort today...

How to View the Klein Karoo from a New Perspective   


The Klein Karoo is an ideal region for cycling and in recent times cycling has become a major recreational activity for many – both young and older with the benefits of this and other healthy outdoor sports activities rapidly on the rise globally. 

The recent launch of the Cape Cycle Routes initiative by the Western Cape Government and Wesgro is now adding the Karoo Crossing Route launched in Prince Albert on Wednesday 23 September, 2020 by the Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde and David Maynier the Minister for Economic Development. This route is from Prince Albert to Knysna and its 364 km distance can be tackled in a series of stages over a number of days. 

(Find out more at                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Existing Road through Meiringspoort 

For those cyclists looking for a shorter but still challenging route in the Klein Karoo region it is suggested that the Klein Karoo Heritage Eco-Trail should be seriously considered. This route starts in De Rust and includes the ride through the stunning Meiringspoort Gorge and then enters Klaarstroom at the other end of the poort.  It then goes on to Prince Albert - a convenient overnight stop before tackling the Swartberg Pass the following day – 75 km in total.  


This map of the Klein Karoo Heritage/Eco Trail can be downloaded as a pdf here


Day 2 is from Prince Albert over the pass and descending on the Southern side of the Swartberg stopping off at the Cango Caves (approx. 30 km).  Suitable accommodation is available in the area if required.  At this point there are a number of options available including the following:

Cango Caves back to De Rust via the Oudemuragie Valley gravel road (30 km).

The route passes the Raubenheimer Dam which is the main water supply source for Oudtshoorn.  In addition, the route travels through the Oudemuragie Valley with fine views of the Swartberg Mountains as well as passing through the extensive olive groves of DeRustica Olive Estate.  

The road through Meiringspoort in days gone by...The road through Meiringspoort in days gone by...


Cango Caves to Oudtshoorn and back to De Rust – all tar (approx. 70 km).

This route returns to De Rust via Oudtshoorn on the R328 and passes a number of historic farmsteads and ostrich farms on the way.  In addition to the outstanding scenery there are also a number of prime examples of “Feather Palaces” built during the Ostrich Boom in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  

The N12 National Road from Oudtshoorn takes you back to De Rust passing the village of Dysselsdorp on the way. It is also possible to bypass Oudtshoorn by taking the Vergelegen gravel road off the R328 from the Cango Caves to join the N12 at Dysselsdorp – a reduction of 25 km.  

Cango Caves to Calitzdorp on a gravel road for an overnight stop (55 km).

The route to Calitzdorp (the Sweet Wine Capital of South Africa) takes you along a good gravel road with the Swartberg on your right. There are a number of interesting art studios and settlements along the way with largely flat terrain.   

Calitzdorp to De Rust via Oudtshoorn – all tar 84 km. 

Those that decide to go on to Calitzdorp can then ride back to De Rust via Oudtshoorn (84 km). This road is relatively flat and travels through a series of farming areas on the way with the Swartberg Range to the north. 

Other than the Swartberg Pass section which is relatively challenging the majority of the routes are level to undulating and can be managed by even relative novices to mountain biking. 


Old Road through Meiringspoort late 1800’s


Accommodation Stays

A wide variety of accommodation is available in the area ranging from farm stays, bed and breakfasts and upmarket lodges. In line with supporting the local tourism industry at this time we believe that the outstanding landscapes as well as the warm hospitality of the local residents of this region makes a visit to the area essential for everyone’s “bucket list”.  


Further information on De Rust and District is also available online on as well as from the Oudtshoorn & De Rust Tourism Offices on  plus the Prince Albert and the Calitzdorp Tourism Offices. 


Alan Tonkin

10 September, 2020 

This newsletter can be downloaded as a pdf document here.