A group of long-standing environmental activists, conservation practitioners, and concerned citizens from Jeffreys Bay have joined together to form the Greater Kabeljous Partnership. Together, we will advocate for the promotion of the Greater Kabeljous area as a national landmark well known for its rich biodiversity and proud cultural heritage.

Irreplaceable Biodiversity

The Greater Kabeljous area comprises the Kabeljous and Papiesfontein parcels of state-owned land positioned just northeast of Jeffreys Bay. It includes the privately owned land stretching up to the Gamtoos River. The area contains irreplaceable biodiversity. There are at least 16 plant species of special conservation concern, and an endangered and protected ecosystem type known as Humansdorp Shale Renosterveld. There are five bird species of special conservation concern (including the highly endangered Black Harrier).

Our vision is of a sustainable nature reserve that will be cared for and protected by all role-players. A place where people from all over the world will be able to enjoy the beautiful nature and learn more about the First Nation people who trace their ancestry back to this land. We will, in due course, be able to communicate precisely what this vision entails and how we hope to make it a reality. The first and most important step at this stage, however, is to ensure that the land is afforded statutory protection for its long-term conservation.

While we are fully focused on realising this positive vision for this land, we must acknowledge an event that threatens the sustainability of this culturally and environmentally important land.

Illegal Occupation of Papiesfontein

Exactly one year ago today, on 5 December 2022, the Papiesfontein land was invaded by an individual and his entourage. They have built illegal structures and blocked public access. Two independent reports reveal that the illegal occupation of Papiesfontein is a serious threat to the continued presence and future breeding of the threatened birds in the area (including the black harrier). It has resulted in “direct loss of vegetation, and potential degradation of environment quality. This is due to poor waste management and no formal sewage treatment system.”

We are supportive of a soon-to-be-launched eviction application by the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements (the owner of the Papiesfontein land) to have the illegal land invaders evicted from the site. This is in addition to a High Court application by the Kouga Local Municipality to have the illegal structures demolished.

There have been attempts going back to 1999 to have portions of this land declared a nature reserve, a process that has unfortunately been delayed by complex government processes. We are, however, encouraged by recent developments. They point to progress in this regard, including a directive by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) to have the Kabeljous land formally declared and protected as a Nature Reserve. Also, a resolution by the MEC for Human Settlements to transfer the Papiesfontein land to DEDEAT as a step towards it being declared a nature reserve.

Greater Kabeljous Partnership formed

The Greater Kabeljous Partnership is in discussions with various stakeholders in government, the conservation fraternity, and legitimate cultural groups to try and accelerate these processes. This before the natural habitat is irrevocably destroyed.

The formation of the Partnership has been welcomed by Gaob Edmund Stuurman. He traces his family’s original Gamtoos Valley Kraal to the land between the Gamtoos, Loerie and Kabeljous rivers.

“The Stuurman family is pleased that this partnership has been formed to protect the cultural and environmental value of this land. We will work closely with the Greater Kabeljous Partnership to advance a common vision for this area. We will protect and celebrate our Khoikhoi and San heritage,” said Gaob Stuurman.

Raising Public Awareness

The Partnership will also be raising public awareness on the importance of the area’s cultural and environmental heritage. Also, its potential socio-economic benefits for Jeffreys Bay and all the people of the Eastern Cape.

To this end we will soon be conducting a site visit of the land in question. Members of the media and the public are invited to attend. Details will be communicated in due course.

The Greater Kabeljous Partnership comprises:

– Hennie Swanevelder, Kabeljous Reserve Action Group (KRAG)

– Wentzel Coetzer, Conservation Outcomes

– Maggie Langlands, Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) Association

– Ricky Stone, local environmental lawyer

– Don McGillivray, Ocean Swell Investments

– Michael Sternberg, concerned citizen

– Frank Lotter, concerned citizen

Media Enquiries:

Anneke Burns

071 423 0079

media@greaterkabeljous.org

Website – Greater Kabeljous