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Speech - Minister of Environmental affairs launches the Khomani Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site on 4 October 2017 at Andriesvale, Northern Cape

04 October 2017

Programme Director
Premier of the Northern Cape, Mme Sylvia Lucas
Members of the Northern Cape Executive Council present
MEC for Environment and Conservation, Ms Tiny Chotelo
Executive Mayor of the ZF Mngcawu District Municipality, Ms Abraham Vosloo
Executive Mayor Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality, Ms Dimakatso Koloi 
CE of SANParks, Mr Fundisile Mketeni 
The Khomani San Queen, Katriena Esau
The newly-elected chair of the Community Property Association,  Petrus Vaalbooi 
CEO of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, Ms Sharon Lewis
Representatives of the Peace Parks Foundation 
The Chief Executive of SANParks, Mr Fundisile Mketeni, 
The Chair of the People and Parks Foundation, Mr Lourence Mogokane, 
The ‡Khomani San and the San Community at large
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning

It is my pleasure to be here with you here in Andriesvale to celebrate a number of milestones for the ‡Khomani community today. 

It is here in Andriesvale that ‡Khomani community leader, human rights activist, conservationist and  protector of the ‡Khomani San indigenous knowledge, Dawid Kruiper, was laid to rest in 2012.   

Today I can picture Oom Dawid standing proud and celebrating with all of us the inscription of the  ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape as South Africa’s 9th World Heritage Site -- the  1 073rd world heritage site in 167 countries.   The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape joins the likes of the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Transboundary with Lesotho), Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Vredefort Dome, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Robben Island Museum, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas as South Africa’s World Heritage Sites.

This landmark inscription took place at the 41st session of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee  in Poland in July this year.    

Die inskripsie versterk die unieke kultuur en erfenis van die ‡Khomani San  Die  ‡Khomani en San gemeenskappe is uniek in dat julle afstammelinge is van voorvaders was meer as 150-duisend jaar gelede in Suider Afrika voorgekom het – die voorvaders van die hele mensdom. 

The red dunes of the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape are strongly associated with this unique culture stretching from the Stone Age to the present.  It is a landscape that has changed little from a time long ago when humans were mainly hunter gatherers.  

What makes the ǂKhomani  unique in that you did not make rock art because there were no suitable rock formations in the territory. Yet, your culture represents a living link to the magnificent artistic legacy in Southern Africa. The site includes a landscape embedded with indigenous knowledge of semi-arid desert hunting and gathering, medicine and related technologies; Spiritual landscape and spaces of cultural practices of healing dances and women’s ceremonies, musical and artistic tangible and intangible heritage; and Landscape transmitting heritage, technical and environmental information. 

The landscape which covers an area of 959 100ha in Dawid Kruiper District Municipality is found in the entire Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP) and forms part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The boundary is large enough to accommodate a reasonably complete representation of the landscape values, features and processes which convey the special way in which the ǂKhomani people were linked with the land. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, as well all know the ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape has been home to at most a few hundred people who have survived life in the extreme desert landscape of the southern Kalahari through their knowledge of nature and knowledge of the land. 

We are here to celebrate: celebrate with the people of the Northern Cape, the people of the ǂKhomani San, onse broers en susters. Your area has been recognised by the whole world. We wanted to party in Poland, but felt that it should be done here at home with the people.  The recognition of the ‡Khomani cultural traditions at a global level and the acknowledgement of the   ‡Khomani community on the successful inscription of the site is a feat to be celebrated.  

Dit is ‘n mylpaal wat behaal is na jare te swoeg en sweet – ‘n mylpaal om te vier. 

Ek wil vandag vir julle die versekering gee dat ons, as die regering, die beskerming van die gebied sal versker, tesame met die oordrag van die ‡Khomani se ryk geskiedenis en kultuur aan toekomstige geslagte.  SANParke, wat reeds die Kalahari Gemsbok Park bestuur, sal verseker dat die integriteit van die uitstekende universele waarde van hierdie gebied gehandhaaf word sodat die ‡Khomani gemeenskap kan vooortbou op jul betrokkenheid in, en voorbou op, jul kulturele erfenis.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The World Heritage Treaty is one of the most prestigious Treaties and Programmes of the United Nations as it not only recognises the global importance of the inscribed properties, but also that the Sites shared with all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.  

This means the protection of a region of South Africa where a community has survived life in the extreme desert landscape of the southern Kalahari through your knowledge of the land.  

Because issues of nature and culture know no political boundaries, the establishment of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Conservation Area was critical in order to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biological and cultural resources with the primary objective of facilitating and promoting regional peace, co-operation and socio-economic development. Thanks to the Peace Parks Foundation, our scientists, communities and all the people that made this listing possible. 

This is a unique culture that South Africa and the world is proud of and has been protected and preserved by the ‡Khomani community.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In 1999, some 40 000 hectares of land was handed back to the San community.  It was Oom Dawid who, quite famously, led this drive to have the land returned to the ‡Khomani and San communities.  It was a victory that allowed the community to resettle on land within the Transfrontier Park and which, in 2002, saw additional land been reproclaimed as a contract national park.    

Following the historic and successful Land Restitution Claim of the ‡Khomani San and the Mier communities, the signing of the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Heritage Park Agreement with SANParks in 2002 marked the beginning of a relationship between the community and SANParks that could serve as an example of cooperative governance to communities in conservation across South Africa. 

The agreement saw a land restored to the communities that had once roamed or farmed the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP). The settlement is in line with Government’s programme to ensure equitable redress for communities that have launched land claims on national and provincial parks.  Part of the 2002 agreement was that the Department of Environmental Affairs together with SANParks would translocate wildlife to one of the ‡Khomani San properties in order to establish a game ranch – the Erin Game Ranch here at Andriesvale. 

The aim of the game ranch has been to create a sustainable income to create employment and support economic growth within the community in line with the government’s National Development Plan goal of creating an environmentally sustainable, climate change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society by 2030, in line with government’s Nine Point Plan to reignite growth and create jobs.    

Sedertdien is meer as 722 wilde diere deur SANParke aan die Erin Game Ranch geskenk. Dit sluit in die oorspronklike hervestiging van blou wildebeest, hartebeest, springbok en gemsbok, en later die aflewering van   13 volstruise, 14 eland and vyf kameelperde in 2015. Die donasies het tot dusver die plaaslike gemeenskap gehelp met die groeie van julle betrokkenheid in die groei van die regering se Nasionale Biodivesiteit Ekonomie Plan, waaronder die wildlewe ekonomie ‘n belangrike rol speel.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The National Biodiversity Economy Strategy is the government’s plan to optimise the economic potential of the wildlife and bioprospecting sectors in South Africa.  Among its aims is to promote a new generation of partnerships between protected areas, the private sector and communities to assist with the transformation agenda. 

In 2016, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Department of Tourism co-hosted the Biodiversity Delivery Lab that culminated in the development of an implementation plan for the bioprospecting and wildlife sectors. 

Besides developing a programme to deliver big, fast results, the lab managed to delineate high-level strategic plans that will facilitate transformation and economic growth whilst fostering the sustainability of biological resources through conservation and sustainable use. The People and Parks Foundation’s role in the development of the people needs to be acknowledged.  You walk with us all the way. 

The Erin Game Ranch is an example of such cooperative development. This ranch has become an  important source of income for the communities. You as a community, I believe, now have money in the bank – almost a million in one year from hunting.  

Extensive training of community members has been provided by organisations such as Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) on areas such as technical guidance, wildlife, equipment to enable the communities to manage the game ranch in a more efficient manner.  Today’s activities therefore also officially endorse the continuation of that relationship in order to support socio-economic development, build capacity, create as many jobs and bring as many tourists to this area as possible.  

It is a pleasure for me to announce today that in honour of a larger-than-life leader in your community, SANParks has made available R18.1 million for the development of the Dawid Kruiper Rest Camp within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which was agreed to in 2015 by SANParks and the ‡Khomani San.  The development is taking place in the area between the Heritage Park and the Auob River – the area in which the community has  preferential commercial development rights.   

Planning has started for the rest camp that will consist of the following:

  • 10 x tourist accommodation units (4 x 4 bed units and 6 x 2 bed units = 28 beds)
  • Reception building and living quarters
  • Swimming pool 
  • Parking
  • Associated infrastructure, i.e. bulk services (water, electricity and sewer services) 
  • Access and internal roads

The selection of the site, as well as the concept design for the proposed chalets were done with the inputs from the Bushmen Council.  The Environmental Impact Assessment process is presently being undertaken  with the Environmental Authorisation anticipated by end of January 2018.  The tender for construction will then be  with construction set to start in June 2018.  The new Rest Camp is expected to open in July 2019.  In terms of the management agreement, SANParks will manage the rest camp on behalf of the community, with 50% of the profit going to the ‡Khomani San.    This model will result in the lowest overheads with highest returns for both parties.

In closing, I would like to extend my congratulations to the newly-elected leadership of the ‡Khomani San CPA.  Oom Petrus Vaalbooi was elected as the community’s new leader on Saturday. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dames en Here, 

Hierdie is ‘n historiese tydperk vir die ‡Khomani San en ander San|Boesman communities. Die erkenning van julle bydrae tot die kulturele landskap wereldwyd, en die belngrikheid daarvan, word nou formeel erken. 

Die fondasie is gele vir die preservering, beskerming en toekoms van julle ryk kultuur – nie net deur die verkonding van die Wereld Erfenisgebied nie, maar deur die ambisieuse ontwikkeling van die Erin Game Ranch en die toekomstige Dawid Kruiper Ruskamp.  Nou is die tyd waarin alle lede van die gemeenskap kan baat vind by julle ryk geskiedenis en die positiewe ontwikkelings in hierdie pragtige deel van ons land – die Kalahari van die Noord Kaap. 

I hope that the ‡Khomani San community will never stop respecting and nurturing your culture and will continue to transfer your rich traditional knowledge from one generation to the next in honour of those that went before you, such as Oupa Dawid Kruiper and Ouma Una Rooi. 

I Thank You

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