Massive urbanisation is taking place all over South Africa, putting National Government, Provincial and Municipal structures under severe pressure to provide effective services in these areas. Rural populations have no choice but to manage the situation and fend for themselves.

Community organisations with strong communication systems in place, and supported by the majority of landowners in rural areas, have become of utmost importance. We have to protect our natural resources and provide a safe and secure environment to live and work in. There has to be structure and guidelines for such organisations. In Hartebeestfontein we find this in the constitutions of the Hartebeestfontein Conservancy and Hartebeestfontein Fire Protection Association. In addition to these constitutions, we have numerous pieces of existing legislation to guide us. My personal opinion is that there is no need for an additional community organisation to represent the landowners in this area, provided these two non-profitable organisations are well supported by the community and properly managed. We have to continuously seek and maintain co-operation with all other community organisations outside our borders, without being dictated to.

The Conservancy and Fire Protection Association, both officially registered non-profitable organisations, share the same boundaries, namely Hartebeestfontein 472JQ (Gauteng), Fouriesrus 474JQ, Quinlands 582JQ, and Hartebeestfontein 473JQ (Northwest Province). This area covers ± 7500 hectares with more or less 270 landowners. More than 80% of the area is actively farmed. Membership of both these organisations is voluntary, and the present annual membership fees are affordable to each and every landowner or resident.
The Conservancy’s focus areas are the following:
• Preventing unsustainable developments;
• Improving and supporting farming practices;
• Supporting sustainable tourist activities;
• Controlling and preventing pollution in every form;
• Sustainable water management; and
• Protecting and managing the natural fauna and flora.
Individual actions by members, realizing the objectives proclaimed in the Conservancy Constitution, are actively supported by Conservancy management. Actions which are in contradiction to these objectives are opposed collectively by the membership.
The Fire Protection Association’s main objective is to prevent rather than fight veld fires. Membership of the FPA ensures assistance from fellow members when a veld fire does occur. The extensive veld fire prevention strategy adopted by the FPA during the 2014 veld fire season was very successful. (See table below)

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Veld fires reported

31

27

13

23

20

12

9

Hectares burnt

1 687

1 119

443

1 791

880

731

37

Man hours lost

686

667

316

934

921

349

93

Estimated damage

R250 000

R514 000

R76 500

R642 750

R360 100

R473 800

R55 000

 It is common knowledge that crime levels in South Africa are alarmingly high. Over the years, the Conservancy and FPA have been active in advocating crime prevention in this area. We have managed to keep Hartebeestfontein free of violent crime for a number of years, but we now have to step up our efforts because of a definite increase in crime in the valley between Skeerpoort and Maanhaarrand. We took note of the call by Government for rural communities to become active in crime prevention. It is also clear that the SAPS is not able to institute effective crime prevention strategies in our area. Intervention by some landowners the past few months, as well as improved security on properties proved to be fairly successful in preventing crime. A cell phone security whats app. group was recently started, whereby landowners can report crime and take note of crime incidents. We receive no timely and accurate crime statistics for the area from the SAPS, and we therefore rely on and need this information from landowners and residents in order to plan crime prevention actions. For further information on this whats app. group, please contact Deon Greyling at 082 856 3183. The FPA also has a radio system in place mainly for veld fire prevention and fire fighting operational use but also for communication in crime prevention operations. The extensive use of technical equipment in crime prevention is currently under investigation. We have a close working relationship with Oostermoed Security Services in the area. Jointly, we strive for a crime-free Hartebeestfontein.