15.5.2013
A statue of Hendrik Verwoerd at the shops and offices just inside the main gate of Kleinfontein.
Picture: Etienne Creux
15.5.2013 A statue of Hendrik Verwoerd at the shops and offices just inside the main gate of Kleinfontein. Picture: Etienne Creux
15.5.2013
White workman building the roads at Kleinfontein.
Picture: Etienne Creux
15.5.2013 White workman building the roads at Kleinfontein. Picture: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - About 30km south-east of Pretoria on the N4 highway, there is a place you enter through a boom gate - similar to many other places in the city.

A security guard in full military attire greets you at the gate with a book for you to sign, and once you’ve stated your case you’re allowed in.

The system is similar to those at every other security estate in the city - except on the other side of this particular gate, you will see white faces only.

Welcome to Kleinfontein.

The white people who live here call it a “cultural community”, a safe haven for the white Christian Afrikaner.

The 800-hectare co-operative, started by Jan Groenewald, turns 21 years old this year and is one year younger than Orania - it’s sister town.

“It was started in 1992 when the founding members got that tingling feeling that the ANC would take over,” says Dr Pieter du Preez, who has lived here for five years and is a member of the board.

There are 450 shareholders in Kleinfontein with 300 homes and 1 000 residents - all white, Christian and Afrikaners.

“It is an Afrikaner homestead,” says Du Preez.

Once you have made it through the boom gate, you are greeted as Oom (uncle) or Tannie (auntie) by another security guard - also in military dress. He asks you who you are visiting and escorts you.

On the way to the office building, you are confronted with a large bust of Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid.

Every white face along the way is smiling and they greet you in the purest Afrikaans.

Still, the place is eerily quiet.

“We have almost zero crime,” says Marisa Haasbroek, Kleinfontein’s volunteer communications officer.

The first stop after checking in at the office is the coffee shop.

You are treated to coffee and baked milktart by yet another smiling Afrikaner face. The smile broadens when they realise you are Afrikaans too.

The average age of a Kleinfontein resident is 60.

“Older people move here to retire because it is safe, quiet and we have a great care centre,” Haasbroek says over coffee.

When asked why there are few young people, she says it is too far outside Pretoria and the young do not want to drive so far to work.

“Older people do not travel as much,” she says.

Next up is a guided tour.

The main road is only tarred up to the bust of Verwoerd, and from there, you follow dirt roads, each with its own name.

The first stop is the seemingly middle-class area with two- or three-bedroom brick homes and gardens with colourful flowers. The gardeners are white.

Haasbroek is clear that they they have all sorts of people living in Kleinfontein.

“We have a healthy population distribution. We have poor people and more well-off residents, nice people and less nice people,” she says.

Across the road is the “white squatter camp” - where whites from informal settlements outside Kleinfontein have found a home. They live in caravans, tents and shacks.

One shack is held together by ropes planted into the ground.

There is an ablution block and a little way down, new little homes.

“We uplift the poor by giving them jobs. We have zero unemployment and we build houses for them,” Haasbroek says of the RDP-type houses on the edge of the squatter camp they call the “caravan park”.

The car passes two children playing in the squatter camp. They stare at the new faces.

Solidariteit sponsors some of the children’s education.

“We are trying to break the cycle of poverty,” Haasbroek says.

The poorer members of the community do mostly manual labour - some build homes in the middle- class area. Others lay bricks on the dirt road.

The next stop is the school, with the “vierkleur” (old Transvaal Republic flag) flapping in the wind.

It is a CVO (Christelike Volkseie Onderwys) school which caters for Grade 0 to Grade 9.

“The children mostly transfer to the CVO school in Pretoria to finish their schooling. Some, like my children, are home-schooled,” says Haasbroek.

The children are exposed to other races and cultures when they leave Kleinfontein.

“They go out and meet black people, for instance. It is good experience but they come back home to a safe environment where they know who they are,” she quietly but firmly asserts.

There are no requirements to belong to a specific political party - except that they belong to a right-wing party. “We are members of AfriForum but there are residents with more extreme views,” says Haasbroek.

Religion is no one’s business but your own.

“Some people belong to the NG Kerk, some to the APK (Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk) and others to the Hervormde Kerk.”

Haasbroek loves the fact that she can live “in two worlds”.

“I can sing Sarie Marais on a Friday night in the community hall and on a Saturday morning I go out to Woodlands Boulevard.”

The tour continues to the “Waterkloof” of Kleinfontein - where the wealthier residents live.

This is where Haasbroek lives with her engineer husband and two children.

The Kleinfontein Wild Park leads you around the property and back to the residential areas.

The tour is almost over - the last stop is the community hall, next to the rugby field.

“In June, we all trek to Orania to play rugby against them,” Haasbroek informs me.

The tour ends where it started - at the bust of Verwoerd.

“This is where we feel at home. “We live with people who are like us.”

If you want to make Kleinfontein your home town, you go through a stringent process of approval.

“We have to make sure potential residents align with our cultural beliefs and our language.”

Once approved, new residents buy shares in the co-operative.

This affords them the right to live there and they are allocated a property.

Residents can then build a house on the property. “If you want to sell the house, the money belongs to you,” says Haasbroek.

The community can also accommodate twice as many homes as currently exist.

“We have enough water and we distribute the electricity ourselves,” says Haasbroek, adding that Eskom only brings the electricity services to the edge of the community.

Residents are involved in a process of applying to be accredited as an independent town - it currently exists as part of the City of Tshwane.

“We do not want trouble. We are well aware of the outside world. We just feel strongly about our identity, but we are not aggressive towards the City of Tshwane,” she sighs.

* Residents of Kleinfontein defend their right to live as they do based on Article 235 of the constitution which allows for self-determination. The article gives the residents the right to live in a community with people of their own culture and language group. It is the same article on which the residents of Orania base their existence.

“We feel at home with our own people and we know who we are,” said Marisa Haasbroek, Kleinfontein’s volunteer communications officer.

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