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Knofloskraal: Why the Cape Independence movement should care

The development of an attempted self-sufficient community in Grabouw is an opportunity for Cape Independence to encourage self-determination right now, and support attempts at autonomy in general.





For more than a year or so, there has been a story that’s been popping up here and there about a small place known as Knofloskraal near Grabouw in the Western Cape. Knofloskraal is supposed to be a self-sustaining community that has become a refuge to those that have left urban areas due to crime and bad living conditions. However the land that they’ve chosen to settle on was previously earmarked for forestation by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment(DFFE), and their legal claims to the land are unfortunately dubious. Consequently support for the community’s existence is contentious because on the one hand their occupation is illegal, and on the other hand they are still citizens of this country that are entitled to a home that is free from violence and is safe.


Why the movement should care


It is a fundamental principle of this movement that the People of the Western Cape have a human right to self-determination, as well as the government should be much more decentralized. Thus it should be the movement’s prerogative to support initiatives like Knofloskraal because they are they epitome of what this movement is about, and yet there is a glaring fault or two here that I feel prevents the movement from engaging seriously in any support of them.


For one, their legality. The Cape Independence movement is of the (generally)Liberal persuasion and believes that the rule of law is paramount for any functioning society and I fully agree. That’s just based, no ifs, ands or buts. Land invasions are rightfully frowned upon or at least discouraged by people with any consistent ethic of upholding the law and property rights of every citizen in the Cape. What gets left out however is the fact that we are presented by a very real symptom of homelessness and unemployment that is left festering while we try to get our economy into a state where these people with valid concerns and fears and families to feed are left scattered in an unsafe environment, ironically enough being kept away from the very environment that the DFFE claims is the right of every South African to reap the benefits of. In this context it is reasonable to actually attempt to help these people gain ownership of land by legal means which according to them hasn’t been a high priority for the officials they’ve had to deal with:


“We understand that a legal and political process needs to be followed… We are gatvol and reaching the end of our patience…. Your delays are causing our people untold suffering from hunger, sickness and unemployment. Our homes are leaking and incomplete.” - A letter sent by the people of Knofloskraal to the Department of Public Works

If the departments responsible for this place can’t even bother to effectively communicate with these people than how do they expect to actually solve anything and tangibly help out the physical community they represent instead of a personless abstract such as the entirety of South Africa, most of whom probably don’t even know about or care that Grabouw(much less Knofloskraal) exists, much less the plot of land they’re trying to gatekeep.

Secondly, this community displays the will and drive to be self-sufficient and not simply act entitled and consume state resources. Their claims during a recent protest is worth critique, however. Demanding sanitation and water is contradictory to what was claimed by the settlement according to this excerpt from an article by GroundUp:


Resident Aubrey Wentzel said that when people, who are mostly from urban communities, first come to settle at Knoflokskraal, there can be “teething problems”. Over time people learn to use candles, install a gas stove and after some time install solar power, he said. “The economy of this country is suffering so we decided that our people should look if they can become self-sustained … The actual goal is to have a better life going forward. I believe it will happen,” said Wentzel.

If what this community wants is to be self-sustained, then they must actively look into ways they can achieve these things without relying on the state. There are many communities throughout the world with the same goals, and thus can offer Knofloskraal the knowledge they need to move towards self-sustainability. Knowledge is power, after all. Likewise, they would be far better off without officials breathing down their throats and keeping them from actually improving and repairing their homes. It will cost the municipality indirectly to give up land set up for forestation, it will cost them even more directly to build infrastructure for these people, but it cannot possibly cost them more than either of the former to help educate these people properly and keep them accountable in their custodianship of the land they claim is their home(and all the responsibility tied to having a home) or to at the very least stay out of their way and leave them to their own devices. Perhaps allowing Knofloskraal to exist could be more productive!

In that same vein I ought to mention what the movement could do.


Knowledge is power, solidarity is grace.


As I previously mentioned, the movement values self-determination and local autonomy, and what other community is there in this country(though outside the Cape) that is a peak example of a cultural community than Orania? Regardless of whether you like Orania or not, think they’re kinda weird or downright evil or whatever, they are an example of autonomy and average people creating a space that they can not only call home, but is also insulated from the greater problems that plague this country.


It would be highly beneficial for Knofloskraal to collaborate with or seek advice from Orania on how to become self-sufficient. It doesn’t have to be physical aid, but instead a kind of knowledge transfer between the two communities, both of which value their independence to varying degrees. Likewise, and perhaps the simplest method is to offer aid in the form of donations, whether it be financial or in the form of appliances. Perhaps you the reader or a friend of yours have an unused generator lying around after buying an inverter? What is the least you could offer the people that, like you, lovingly call this province home?


As for the greater Cape Independence movement, the movement must give more attention to situations such as this, where people of the Western Cape want to genuinely be self-determined. The more of us that are free from the effects of the Nat’s incompetence, the more viable Cape Independence becomes, and the lesser this province’s historical baggage becomes, and the more support there is for Cape Independence among the people that would benefit most from it who would otherwise support initiatives that won’t actually fix things but give the state more power.


A lack of solidarity will feed into the cycle of alienation from the benefits of social membership that will drift these people into the hands of statists that want to centralize everything and make and independent Western Cape an impossibility. Would you rather the racists of the socialist parties in this country be their only help? Or do you want the Cape Independence movement to reach its true potential and help those in need in our home? It is in the movement’s best interest to at least care about and acknowledge people like those at Knofloskraal that are trying to make a life for themselves, and it will be for the benefit of us all if we could work together and make a true difference.

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