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The Issue of Heritage & Sustainability in De Rust

Developing & Building a Sustainable Future for All  


Introduction: In considering the issue of “Heritage” it is important to see this as part of an integrated strategy in developing and sustaining community involvement at all levels. This should be seen as a process in ensuring that the Village can continue to grow and develop in a fully sustainable way.   


Strategy: In order to build on the above De Rust Heritage has developed a wide variety of linkages with other “heritage related bodies” in the region. The latest initiative is the formation of the Southern Cape/Klein Karoo Heritage Forum comprising heritage bodies in both the Southern Cape including the Simon van der Stel Foundation as well as in the Klein Karoo such as Heritage Oudtshoorn Erfenis and the Prince Albert Cultural Foundation among others.  We also link with other voluntary organisations on a wider basis through both the Heritage Portal and the Karoo Development Foundation which is particularly involved in issues of “sustainable development” in the Karoo.     


Structure: The De Rust Heritage Trust employs an integrated multi-faceted approach to “heritage” where it links inter-related  components including the issues of eco-tourism, employment opportunities linked to eco-tourism, protection of the broader environment such as the with the De Rust Koppie as well as preserving the unique ambiance of the Village.  De Rust is situated in a unique geographical position within the Klein Karoo region and is particularly well placed to capitalise on the increasing global trend towards eco-tourism activities at both the international and local levels.  However, development also needs to be carefully managed and nurtured without spoiling the sparkling gem we already have in De Rust.  


Challenges & Opportunities: The challenge in developing an integrated strategy for De Rust is to ensure that the residents of the Village see this initiative as an opportunity not a threat. The demographics of the Village have changed quite significantly over the past few years and more new residents from other provinces and further afield are now purchasing properties in the smaller “dorpies” such as De Rust.  This in turn is leading to more demand for quality “heritage properties” with potential for improvement and a consequent increase in property values in the Village.   


An Integrated Communication Strategy: De Rust will only continue to develop in a sustainable way if its residents join hands and realise that they need to become “part of the solution” and not “part of the problem”. The idea that the Oudtshoorn Municipality can resolve all the challenges facing the Village is both unrealistic and dangerous. Municipalities both in South Africa and globally are facing enormous challenges and it is up to local communities to become more involved in “shaping the future now”.


Some Conclusions: There is a danger that without careful management of current and new developments that the Village will lose the very attraction that initially brought people to De Rust. Bearing this in mind, the role of the De Rust Heritage Conservation Association is crucial in ensuring that we manage the process carefully.  However, we also need to be fully involved in designing and implementing a pro-active and positive “selling job” on the real benefits of a carefully managed heritage process for the residents of the Village as a whole.


We look forward to working with the broader De Rust community in achieving a positive outcome of the above objectives in order to realise the long term benefits which will flow naturally from this integrated process.


De Rust Heritage Trust

October, 2021   



De Rust Heritage Conservation Association

Reg. # HWC/RCB/01/08

Strategy on Operational & Funding Initiatives


Introduction: The “De Rust Heritage Conservation Association” and other similar voluntary community organizations are the lifeblood of small communities throughout South Africa in order to assist in ensuring that norms and standards are maintained and improved over time with the responsible municipality.  


Currently municipalities throughout the country are under resourced and lack the required skills in order to fully undertake their mandate to the communities they serve. It is this reality that creates the urgent need for volunteer organizations to add to the skills mix available in order to move forward.


Required Operational Structure: In order to fully explain the strategy and regular daily working arrangements of De Rust Heritage it is necessary to emphasize that being a relatively small community including the De Rust District it is necessary to be able to accommodate the requirements of our own community members, especially those who do not live directly in the Village.


Exco Meetings:  To be held as required after hours to suit members (preferably evenings) to accommodate those out of town including those from the farming community. The meetings will be relatively informal but will record areas of concern regarding both “Heritage” as well as Building Control, Conservation and Environmental issues.  These issues impact directly on the preservation of De Rust and its immediate environs as a historical “heritage” village having many significant examples of Klein Karoo Victorian architecture. 


Departures from the National Heritage Resources Act, National Building Regulations and Conservation Guidelines will be reported as they occur by De Rust Heritage to the Oudtshoorn Municipality by e-mail with pictures where available. In order to manage the process efficiently we will require a written response confirming the action taken from the appropriate municipal official on each infringement within ten working days from date of notification.  These will then be collated on a monthly basis, both for Heritage Western Cape and our website with a record of action instituted by the Municipality to log progress.   


General Meetings: To be held bi-annually – or less often as required. These will also be relatively informal in order to encourage members to attend. The meetings will include presentations on general heritage and other related issues from both within the De Rust District as well as on a wider basis.  


Annual General Meetings:  To be held at least by 30 April of each year to present the results of on-going activities from the previous year and to then forward these to Heritage Western Cape as required by law.


Liaison with Heritage Oudtshoorn Erfenis (HOE)

Although the  De Rust Heritage Conservation Association is a fully independent body from HOE both parties will continue to collaborate on the Joint Permit Committee which meets every second week to provide advice on new applications for alterations,  additions and new construction in the Village and Oudtshoorn to the Oudtshoorn Municipality. In addition, we will continue to co-operate with HOE on heritage related issues in the Greater Oudtshoorn area as well as through the Simon van der Stel Foundation in the Southern Cape.   

Funding: Funds to be largely obtained from sponsorships and donations in order to fund day- to-day expenses. The De Rust office of Rawson Properties are the current sponsors of the website having made a one-off donation. Other possible sponsors are being approached on a selective basis.  In addition, a nominal membership fee will be charged to members on an annual basis. 


Sponsorships:  Potential sponsors will be approached on the basis of them having a keen interest in not only “Heritage Issues” but also their interest in assisting in ensuring that development activities in De Rust are carefully managed.  This will assist in building an integrated sustainable long term future for the Village and all its residents as a whole. All sponsorships will be backed up by documentary evidence of any expenditure required by De Rust Heritage. 


Other Related Community Initiatives: In order to foster a winning collaborative approach to heritage and other related issues it is planned to encourage "special interest visits" to the Village on a regular basis. This includes the possibility of reintroducing the train trips from Oudtshoorn to De Rust on a day trip basis and other similar initiatives. This will link with other local groups on a similar basis to those of the De Rust Half Marathon and the De Rust Trail Run/Mountain Biking Events while also assisting in raising funds for the wider De Rust community.  Part of this will also be to encourage the participation of the younger generation in order to continue building a solid foundation for the future of heritage in the area.    


Conclusion: De Rust was selected as “Dorp of the Year” by Sarie Magazine in 2011 as a direct result of a concerted community effort from both the Village and District. Based on this achievement it is intended to encourage other similar efforts in order to boost the potential of De Rust as a heritage and eco-tourism destination for both local and international tourists. We look forward to similar support received in the past as we go forward in creating “a better life for all” in our own unique Klein Karoo community. For further details on the above  which clearly sets out the integrated heritage strategy being employed see other sections of this site.  


De Rust Heritage

August, 2018