Clash over Richtersveld control
Cape Town - Feuding over control of Richtersveld looks set to intensify after a group this week claimed to have deposed the leaders of the community's communal property association (CPA).
The claim followed a series of chaotic community meetings in the village of Lekkersing on Saturday.
The "new" committee has promised a probe into what it claims is the wastage of R21m by the "old" committee, but the "old" committee says it is still in office.
Both groups agree that two CPA annual general meetings, one for 2010 and another postponed from last year, were scheduled to take pace back-to-back on Saturday morning, and that both were abandoned in disorder.
The dissidents say that at a third meeting the same day, a special general meeting, they carried a vote of no confidence in the existing committee chaired by Willem Diergaardt.
Spokesperson for the group Edwin Farmer said in a statement that following the vote a new committee, of five women and six men, was elected.
"Diergaardt and his committee are still refusing to hand over the keys and assets of the CPA, and this is being attended to by our attorneys," he said.
Wasted millions to be probed
The new committee had begun planning the future of the community "in (the) interest of all Richtersvelders".
"We intend amending the constitution to expand the CPA committee in order to have wider community participation and to protect the democratic and participatory rights of the community.
"Investigations will also be commissioned into the R21m that has been wasted under the tenure of the previous committee."
However Diergaardt said on Tuesday that the special general meeting had also been abandoned in uproar.
"There was no chance to have a meeting. The whole Saturday's meetings were in confusion. No committee was chosen," he said.
"It was chaotic."
IEC to supervise poll
He said his committee would not hand over keys and documents.
"If they try to get a court order we will oppose it," he said. "There must be justice."
Diergaardt said the community would have a chance to vote for a new committee on October 9, in polls supervised by the Independent Electoral Commission.
These polls had been scheduled in August already.
"They (the dissidents) know about the election but they know they don't stand a chance," he said. "That's why they want to force the thing through."
In 2007, the community became the beneficiary of the single largest land claim settlement in South Africa when it was restored ownership of a strip of diamond-bearing territory below the Gariep River.
Mismanagement and nepotism
The award has been followed by a string of court actions.
The Kimberley court last Thursday reserved judgment on an application for the community's Richtersveld Agricultural Holdings Company to be put under judicial management.
On Friday the same court was scheduled to hear an urgent application by the Farmer group to stop the Saturday AGMs going ahead.
However attorney for the objectors Garon Nortje said that instead the two sides had agreed that the first item on Saturday's agenda would be a motion to postpone the annual meetings until a special general meeting had been held, at which a vote of no confidence could be put.
The Farmer group have claimed mismanagement and nepotism by the CPA committee; the committee have claimed that the group is being manipulated by outside interests with an eye on the Richtersveld's wealth.