Greyton’s commonage to be ‘land-claimed’

22 September 2013

This part of the Greyton Common may soon look very different.

This part of the Greyton Common, a critically-endangered vegetation type, may soon look very different.

Residents of the sleepy and secluded village of Greyton, east of Cape Town, have long believed that the commonage along the bank of the Gobos (Qobos, Ghobos*) River would always be just that, commonage.  This belief was shattered a few weeks ago when a local resident happened to spot a surveyor from the Department of Land Affairs, marking out a series of erven along Von Solms Street (plan here). To-date the local officials have not shared any information other than the layout of the erven.

The Qobos River, an important ecosystem, lies alongside the site.

The Gobos River, a nationally-important ecosystem, lies alongside the site. 

The river’s curious name is a corruption of “Ghô-bos”, a Khoi word for the wild almond, Brabejum stellatifolium, the same tree Van Riebeeck used for his famous hedge on Wynberg Hill in Cape Town.

The common, which stretches from one end of Greyton to the other, forms the eastern boundary of the town, a place frequented by horses, cattle and in the early hours of the morning, buck graze on the grass and daisies.  The piece of land is a remnant of the Critically Endangered Central Ruens Shale Renosterveld vegetation – an aspect that has seemingly gone unnoticed.  This is set to change if the common is developed, apparently to pay off a mysterious landclaim.  Apparently a second piece of land is similarly being carved up on Park Road, near the Nature Reserve (plan here).

Greyton's horses will lose a big chunk of their communal grazing, its protected vegetation status notwithstanding!

Greyton’s horses will lose a big chunk of their communal grazing, its protected vegetation status notwithstanding!

The local authority, Theewaterskloof Municipality, has not provided any recent information but it appears that they made a decision to dispose of this piece of the Commonage back in the mid-2000’s.  The land lies just a few meters from the Gobos River, an aquatic environment that has been declared to be a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area as it supports endangered species of fish.  Wetlands and a small perennial stream abut the site.

Common cows on the Common - for how much longer?

Common cows on the Common – for how much longer?

Soon to be "un-common"?

Soon to be “un-common”?

Map showing important aquatic environments around Greyton.

Map showing important aquatic environments around Greyton.


Key to map features

Key to map features

We await the provision of documentation explaining all of this – and especially why the decision appears to have been made in spite of very clear and rigorous environmental protection laws.  Should this go ahead it will set a very negative precedent for the future strategic protection of our natural capital.

2 Responses to Greyton’s commonage to be ‘land-claimed’

  1. Anne Landon says:

    Dear Sirs,
    Change is always imminent even in the most settled of environments but we live in hope that the face of Greyton, which is it’s income via tourism, will not change so much that the village as we recognise it, and as it has become known internationally, will die.
    Please inform us of future plans.
    Yours sincerely
    Anne Landon
    86 Main Road

  2. Wessel van Leeuwen says:

    Indeed it is true. One of the six families told me that it is true and that they will build and settle there. They are waiting for the “geld’ to come in and start building.
    Trust TWK. The word transparency is not in TWK vocabulary neither is it in their dictionary.

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