Friends of Stellenbosch Mountain
Nature, Governance and Development Blog
- Documents, issues and comments: January 2023
- Documents, issues and comments: November 2022
The Stellenbosch Municipality 2022 Alien Invasive Plants Management Plan (AIPMP) follows five years after the first
2017 AIPMP was approved by Council. Here is the Council Item of November 2022.
These plans are crucial to ensuring that the war against alien invasives succeeds. While there has been some effort in the past two years by SM to address the
problem, not nearly enough has been done. Among the municipal nature areas, Papegaaiberg Nature Reserve is currently in the worst shape, but all of the areas have to
be treated. The Paradyskloof areas urgently need follow-up work.
- Documents, issues and comments: October 2022
- Documents, issues and comments: September 2022
Brandwacht Land Development (Pty) Ltd has engaged planners TV3 to try yet again to have the
remainder of Farm 1049 Brandwacht rezoned for full development. Here is
the notice to interested and affected parties who have until 3 October 2022 to comment. This
proposal once again resurrects the never-ending attempts for development of Farm 1049, even though this was turned down in the past, including the
2019 attempt to have Farm 1049 included into the urban edge. The site development plan makes
provision for 243 new residential erven. The proposal is viable only if the Eastern Link Road
is constructed, which was also attempted in 2018. This and the corresponding link road map by
ICE date back to March 2018, more than four years ago. Here is the
complete rezoning application (87 MB PDF file).
- Amendment of the 2019 Municipal Spatial Development Framework: Strange "amendment" of the currently
valid 2019 final MSDF as approved in November 2019.
Here is the council resolution with new Tables 20 and 28
compared to the 2019 Table 20 and the
2019 Table 28.
Millions wasted in matters related to municipal nature areas
In the January 2022 comments and questions FSM asked about the millions wasted by Stellenbosch
Municipality in connection with the municipal nature areas. This matter started in 2019 and is getting steadily worse. Some information
can be found below in the May 2020 blog entry below.
The wastage and mismanagement includes
There was no reply. In the context of the 2022/23 IDP process, FSM then followed
up in September 2022 and provided a detailed list of money wasted or expenditure unknown.
- understaffing in the nature management section (Section 2.2 of the FSM submission); see also
the FSM Invasives Forum talk and the
corresponding January 2022 blog entry,
- termination of the 2019 NRM contract worth R14.426 million (section 2.3)
- fruitless and wasteful expenditure of more than R300,000 in "biomass removal" (section 2.4) and
- supply chain management misconduct with respect to logging operations (section 2.6).
- again, the termination of the R14.426 million grant from national government for alien clearing, money which was sorely needed in the nature areas,
- a likely payout of more than R4.3 million to contractor Deon Garden and Construction whose alien clearing contractor had been terminated unlawfully in 2019 or 2020,
- about 12 other contractors whose contracts were also unlawfully terminated by the municipality in 2019 or 202,
- the costs of a three-year suspension of a municipal official on full pay and benefits without due process being completed,
- the costs incurred in the associated long disciplinary process,
- future costs to be incurred in the same case as the municipality refused to accept the outcomes of the disciplinary process.
- The 22 September questions were asked orally at the IDP meeting of 22 September. The allegations were denied and the questions were
dismissed. Only after another FSM follow-up on 29 September was a
partial written reply received from the Municipal Manager.
Of the matters listed above, this reply only tried to address issues around the CITP and the
Deon Garden and construction court case.
- As usual, the municipality denies that it terminated the R14.426 million NRM grant itself.
As usual, it was claimed that court cases were sub judice and that therefore nothing would be said on the matter.
By now, it is common knowledge that the sub judice rule is often used to conceal information, see for example
article by Pierre de Vos
as well as
- Documents, issues and comments: January 2022
- Documents, issues, comments: November 2021
- "Biomass removal": A huge 25-ton excavator and truck have been busy in the area below the clubhouse for six
weeks, creating havoc, flattening and compacting the soil, digging out tree stumps, destroying the fynbos (and weeds) which are emerging
after the area had been logged, and threatening the stands of Red Data species xiphotheca lanceolata which occur in the area. The
whole purpose seems to be so-called "biomass removal" of the dead branches and slash left from the logging. The excavator and truck are
not suited for the job at all; a simple chipper could have carried out the same task much faster and at far lower cost. This will be
The COP26 Glasgow Climate Change negotiations generate more hot air, conflict
and many promises. Not nearly sufficient measures are approved to stem the global temperature rise.
- Documents, issues and comments: October 2021
- With regard to the Blaauwklippen Agricultural Estates appeal (see the July 2021 and
earlier entries below), a 17 October 2021 story in the Sunday Times (see also
the pdf file and the
original link) states that
The DA mayor of Stellenbosch approved [the BAE appeal] just weeks after the farm
hosted and bankrolled two events for the political party.
Four days later, on 21 October 2021, the local Stellenbosch newspaper
Eikestadnuus quoted extensively from the Jamestown Erfenis objections to the development and its approval. While the article
itself makes no reference to the alleged hosting of the Democratic Alliance by Blaauwklippen estate, the municipal spokesperson Stuart
Grobbelaar is quoted in the Eikestadnuus article as stating that
In die belang van deursigtigheid is die beslissingsbriewe vir die publiek oop en op die munisipale webwerf beskikbaar. Dit hou
geensins verband met partypolitieke-aktiwiteite nie. Enige voorstelle van partydige inmenging is 'n lasterlike, heeltemal ongegronde
aanval op die integriteit van die burgemeester.
which translates as
In the interest of transparency, the decision letters are open to the public and available on the municipal website. It
[the appeal decision?] is in no way connected with party-political activities. Any suggestions of party interference is a libellous,
completely unfounded attack on the integrity of the mayor.
Logging in Paradyskloof Plantation When a high wind blew over dozens of pines in the Paradyskloof plantation in
October 2020, these were quickly removed. There seems to have been a simple
FQ contract in place which covers such smaller tasks.
In the four months October 2020 to March 2021, the logging just continued, however, leading to questions whether this was all done in
accordance with municipal rules ("Supply Chain Management", SCM).
These written questions, asked via the Ward 21 Committee, are based on the
fact that all work done for more than R200,000 must follow a full tender process as specified by the municipality's SCM Policy. It took
a full three months to obtain this answer and the reasons given do not
- Documents, issues and comments: September 2021
- 20 September: Extensive comments, maps and history of mountain bike trails
- 4 September: FSM Special Hack, work on hakea stands upmountain from the waterfalls; one large black wattle; difficult terrain. As
usual, it takes longer than anticipated.
- Documents, issues and comments: August 2021
- 28 August: magnificent snowfall on the Western Cape mountain ranges: Pieke and First Ridge Peak and Haelkop as
viewed from Stellenbosch Mountain:
- Documents, issues and comments: July 2021
- Regarding the Blaauwklippen Agricultural Estates application to develop parts of the Jamestown "tuin
erven" (see the entries below for May 2021 and January 2021):
The appeal decision was signed on 13 July 2021 and communicated to FSM and Jamestown Erfenis
on 14 July. The decision upheld the BAE appeal and revoked the decision by the Municipal Planning Tribunal and
simultaneously overruled the determination of the municipal Department of Planning. The "reasons" given follow
closely those submitted by BAE's legal team; they can be found on "Page 5 of 6" (page 6 of the PDF document) of
said appeal decision. The last reason provided is an entirely empty promise, which no doubt
will be tested and broken in the near future:
Reason 8: "The decision will not create a precedent as every application has to be judged on its own merits"
If in the view of the mayor the present application has really been "judged on its own merits", the mayor is thereby implying that neither
the municipal Department of Planning nor the Municipal Planning Tribunal "judged the application on its own merits" and that the Mayor
understands "merits" better than the collected internal experts and the independent external professionals appointed to the MPT precisely
to adjudicate such matters. No doubt the next series of Jamestown and other development applications "merits" will be "judged" in a
This appeal decision has created a precedent. With the development approved on dubious "merits", Jamestown
stands to lose its last chance of maintaining its character and return the tuin erwe to their agricultural purposes. The continuing
process of creating gated estates for the rich will accelerate, while the poorer residents will eventually have to move out.
- A long-running saga regarding hazardous waste along the Schuilplaats River is close to being resolved. In the
course of construction of the road link between Schuilplaats suburb and Trumali Road, a significant dump of old waste was discovered. More
than 322 tons of ground was excavated under the supervision of an environmental control officer and in cooperation with the municipal
department of solid waste disposal. The analysis of the waste did show elevated levels of heavy metals and organic molecules, but those
levels did not exceed the thresholds for the waste to fall into one of the more hazardous classes within the Waste Management Act. The
reports were kindly provided; have a look at the
monthly summary report, the
July 2020 closeout report memorandum by
the municipal environmental coordinator and especially
the photographs of the digging.
The test report on chemical composition provides a quantitative
assessment of individual chemical elements and molecules compared to the lowest "Level of Detection" (LOD).
The corresponding agenda item in the Council agenda of 25 November 2020 is not
quite accurate, but it does emphasise that there are historical dumps in Stellenbosch which may still be discovered and be dangerous. We
do not have enough information to assess the impact of the discovered waste on the ecological state of the lower Schuilplaats stream.
- Documents, issues and comments: June 2021
- As already highlighted in April 2021, Council approved a so-called Comprehensive Integrated Transport
Plan (CITP) "Update" along with releasing for public comment a draft Roads Master Plan as well as a NMT Master
Plan. The NMT Master Plan is fine but the spending amounts are negligible compared to the proposed spending on roads and
parking. The so-called 2021 Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan "Update" is,
however, a major scandal in several ways. The FSM Comments will be supplemented
later with some relevant background material. The draft Roads Master Plan
contains up to 84 projects which would cost billions, while the real needs of public transport receive almost no funding.
- Documents, issues and comments: May 2021
- Documents, issues and comments: April 2021
The Council agenda for 28 April 2021 suddenly contained a whole raft of road, traffic and transport related plans. Some, like the
"Draft" Roads Master Plan had been finalised already in August 2019 but were
never made public.
On the other hand, the
Draft "Update" of Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan of June 2020 is anything but
an "update" and nothing like "comprehensive" or "integrated".
The only plan with some standing is the
Draft NMT Master Plan of December 2020, which however concerns itself chiefly with cycle and walking routes
in Stellenbosch town centre. The budget is miniscule.
Also in the April Council agenda was the
Final Parking By-Law, which relates to details of parking management rather than planning.
Also of interest are the
Draft Poster By-Law and the
Draft Roads and Streets By-Law which deals with the technicalities of local road use.
- Documents, issues and comments: March 2021
On 18 March, FSM submitted a formal
Request for a Directive to the national Department of Environment, Forestry
and Fisheries (DEFF). This follows the request both to DEFF and to Stellenbosch Municipality for more information on the sudden and
unexplained termination of a DEFF-funded alien clearing contract of R14.26 million in October 2019. Since then, very little alien
clearing has been happening in the municipal nature areas, with dire long-term consequences.
- Documents, issues and comments: January 2021
- Documents, issues and comments: August 2020
FSM pays tribute
Guy Preston who has played a pivotal role in making the Working for Water programme the model to be emulated by the world. Working
for Water was followed by many other programmes and is a shining example of what can be achieved by government in both job creation and
caring for the environment.
- Documents, issues and comments: July 2020
- The National Council of Provinces of South Africa is about to consider amendments to the important NEMA-related
acts as well as the National Forests Act. The provincial parliament of the Western Cape had earlier issued a request for comments
(here is the
English version and the
Afrikaans version). Here are the
FSM comments and criticisms on the proposed amendments. We criticise the
blurring of the boundaries between state powers and those of commercial entities such as environmental assessment practitioners
(EAPs). We show that the relevant proposed amendment may be unlawful and even unconstitutional. We also emphasise the difference between
the goal of eradication and the process of control with respect to invasive alien plants. The intent to make municipal
councils appeal authorities for environmental directives is also a bad idea. Other amendments are in general sensible and are supported.
- Here are the links to the underlying amendment proposals:
NEMLA bill of amendments to the NEMA-related acts,
NFA bill of amendments to the National Forests Act,
and the current versions of these acts, as previously amended:
National Forests Act,
National Environmental Management Act (NEMA),
NEMA Amendment 2008,
Air Quality Act,
Coastal Management Act,
Protected Areas Act,
- Documents, issues and comments: June 2020
- South Africa is a world leader in the science of biological invasions. This is exemplified by a recent volume in Springer Series of
Invasion Ecology entitled Biological Invasions in South Africa. The book is Open Access and can therefore be
downloaded for free at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32394-3.
- Equally worthwhile is the CREW Newsletter May 2020 published by
the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers, a volunteer group working under Ismail Ebrahim
of SANBI. The newsletter is a showcase of wonderful work done by ordinary people. If you are
scientifically minded and enjoy a slow but intense walk through the fynbos, please join CREW. There is a local CREW group in Somerset
West, so please enquire with FSM if you want to join.
- Documents, issues and comments: May 2020
- The May 2020 Final IDP and the May 2020 Final MTREF show
no signs of the NRM contract. There appears to be no provision for alien clearing or any other management of invasive plants in the
municipal documents, even while the municipality is required by the Biodiversity Act to carry out the clearing.
Here are the FSM Comments on the Draft IDP as well as
the Comments on the MTREF budget. The main issue is the
apparent massive underspending on Stellenbosch nature areas even while millions of Rands
in grant money has been available. While the two FSM comments are very similar, the IDP comments highlight the omission of an
important section on public transport which had been part of the 2019 IDP and has now been removed.
Separately, the FSM comments highlight the new situation created by the new era of economic recession, perhaps
depression. The current budget and IDP do not take proper account of this and will need drastic revision. This is made clear enough
by the MFMA circular issued in December by the national treasury. Cost
containment and a back to basics approach are now official policy; no more "nice to have" spending.
Correspondingly, the Council item introducing the budgets makes clear that it
is no longer business as usual. There is no more money for luxury spending on big road and parking projects.
- Documents, issues and comments: April 2020
- Documents, issues and comments: November 2019
- Retrospective Impact Assessment: Erf 1314 (Dylan Lewis): This pertains to the second-last of the smallholdings which abut the
Paradyskloof Nature Reserve; the last one (erf 1315) is also relevant. DEADP in March issued a directive requiring that the substantial
alterations in and around the Paradyskloof River were illegal and had to be subject to a so-called Section 24G rectification,
because these alterations were illegal. The Impact Assessment (zipfile) is open for public
comment until 9 December 2019. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The MSDF has finally been completed. After changing the revised Draft MSDF at the last minute at the meeting of 2 August 2019,
Council on 11 November approved the corresponding Urban Edge Map for
Stellenbosch, appearing as Figure 28 of the complete Final 2019 MSDF. At issue here and in August
was the exclusion of
Brandwacht Farm 1049 remainder as well as Erf 1049/3 from the Urban Edge. Also an error in Farm 81/33 on
the northern extension was corrected. The full council item tells the
story. Therefore, six months after the due date in May 2019, we now have a fully approved MSDF and Urban
Edge. This Urban Edge Map supercedes all previous versions.
- Meanwhile, the full council agenda reveals again the havoc caused by the ill-advised and
ultra vires actions of the
6 April 2017 Letter by DTPW. As a condition for approval of the proposed Farm 372
(Paradyskloof Rd) developments, DTPW laid down the precondition that 6.5 The construction of the development may only commence once
the extension of Schuilplaats Road has been constructed up to Trumali Road and the R44/Paradyskloof Road intersection upgraded. This
led to a court case between La Concorde (KWV) and the municipality and recently culminated in
the threat to cancel the lease altogether. A settlement has now been
- Documents, issues and comments: October 2019
- Transcripts and meeting minutes of the Mobility Forum have been uploaded
- The 2018 National
Biodiversity Assessment has been released. Almost half of all South Africa's 1021 ecosystem types are threatened with ecological
collapse. One in seven of the 23,312 indigenous species that were assessed are considered threatened with extinction. See the press
release headlines and
- Documents, issues and comments: September 2019
- Just released: the IPCC Special Report and the
accompanying press release on the oceans and the "cryosphere" (the frozen parts of
the earth system). The report affirms previous conclusions; quote: We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C
above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems,
urban and infrastructure as well as industry.
- The most recent climate models now indicate that the earth is warming more quickly than previously estimated and could see the global
average temperature rise by 7 degrees rather than just 5 by 2100. See the
French CNRM press
- Accelerating climate changes is the topic of
the WMO press release.
The synthesis report documents greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, shrinking ice, the state of the arctic and antarctic
regions, ocean heat and acidity, extreme events and wildfires. Meanwhile, provincial and local authorities pay lip service but act as
if there is no tomorrow. More material appears on this website appears under the Climate and Environment links.
- Documents, issues and comments: August 2019
- 27 August 2019: R44 upgrade proposals: The appeals lodged against the Environmental Authorisation of 29 March 2018 have been
largely dismissed. Here is the complete letter from DEADP to DTPW. Voluminous
explanations made in Reasons for Decision. Some changes to the major intersections are made; see the Annexures on the last five pages.
The issues in
article are but part of a larger picture. Dig into the background material as appears here.
Compare the March 2019 IDP to the May 2019 IDP to the
Draft Amended IDP. The latter is an improvement in that it includes parts of the new
(dfraf) MSDF in a new Chapter 4. Unfortunately, the outdated and wrong sections 7.3.1 and 7.3.2 are still in the amended version, as are
the fallacious budget items prioritising roads and even the Roads Master Plan over the mandatory Comprehensive Integrated Transport
Plan. Here are the FSM Comments.
- Where is the Final MSDF? Despite three versions of a MSDF having been published, and despite the legal requirement that
a new SDF must be approved in conjunction with the IDP, we have yet to see an agenda item and approval of a final 2019 version. This
presumably indicates that the same conflicts which have been playing out throughout (with numerous applications by aspirant developers of
their favourite land for inclusion into the Urban Edge) are still in play. Here are
Version 1 signed February 2019,
Version 2, made public in March 2019, and
Version 3, signed June 2019. For completeness, here is the
- Documents, issues and comments: July 2019
- Documents, issues and comments: June 2019
- Eastern Link Road is in the news again. The
recent article in Eikestadnuus
reveals yet again the 20th century mindset which is still dominating the public discourse and management decisions. We will deal with
the misconceptions and the mindset in due course. They are wrong. It takes only a glance at the transport
legislation and the MSDF and CITP itself to see that they are wrong. It is also not enough to make patronising statements about NMT
while pushing road building which deprive NMT of decades-long infrastructure investment and sabotage progress towards sustainability.
- Continue by reading the summary which sketches the
current situation with respect to the Eastern Link Road and urban edge extension.
- Despite explicit denial on page 165 of the revised draft MSDF (see below) there is now a
concrete Blaauwklippen development proposal for the "tuinerwe" in Jamestown.
- The agenda of the Council meeting of 12 June 2019 contains
a Revised Draft MSDF; here is
the portrait version and the corresponding
agenda item. The revision differs substantially from the draft MSDF published for comment in March 2019 (see copy
below); for example the draft urban edge has been changed in several places. This means that there will have to be
another public participation process ending sometime in August. See also the
April minutes of the Intergovernmental Steering Committee which of course do not take into account the many development proposals and submissions
contained in the Revised Draft MSDF but make clear that the changes cannot merely be promulgated.
- There are many important additions; see for example Section 6.9.1 on the Adam Tas Corridor, 6.9.2 on Klapmuts, part of the Capital
Expenditure Framework in Section 7 and Appendix .
- Of particular interest are the extensive public comments summarised in part in Appendix B. Pay particular attention to the map on Page
145 on the various issues around the urban edge, the Housing Pipeline on page 184 etc.
- Documents, issues and comments: May 2019