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Published:  2016-03-10 Views:  1064
Author:  karelnel
Published in:  Hartbeespoort/Harties
The History Of The Meerhof Residents Forum

The History of the Meerhof Residents’ Forum

On 12 March 2002 the Meerhof Club (established in 1992) was ousted from the Meerhof Foreshore, an area which the residents had frequented and enjoyed  for many years. This was done by business interests, that  henceforth managed the foreshore  for profit. Understandably the members of the Meerhof Club was upset and got involved in litigation against this unfair process, by requesting an anti-spoliation order from the court.

Unfortunately the Meerhof Residents had other pressing issues to address at that time as well, and the Meerhof Club was not the right forum to address those. A need therefore existed for the establishment of a forum that could start to address these issues in an comprehensive way. The forum was however also meant to serve as a broader platform for the protection of the Meerhof owners’ foreshore rights, should these not be adequately addressed by the Meerhof Club. (For example, a letter was dispatched to the business interests mentioned above to deny the validity and reject an agreement falsely concluded on behalf of the Meerhof owners).

On 10 April 2003 a meeting was called in the Hall of Meerhof School and was attended by about 110 Meerhof residents. After Mr Jan Moller (attorney) and Mr Mike Benn (Businessman) explained the need for a representative residents’ body for Meerhof, the following community members were elected as the first management committee: Mr Floris Brand, Mr Michiel van Deventer, Mr Hessel vd Walt , Dr Manie Brynard , Mr Jan Moller , Mr KPJ Nel (Chair). The management was asked to look into the following matters: Owners’ foreshore rights, neatness of the village, the speed humps, the mandate of the new organisation, the ownership of stands recently purchased by a businessman from Schoemansville, the position of the Transnet property, sewerage matters, the status of the stand to the south of Meerhof (Stand 275, “Sunset Park” – which became an issue in November 2003) and the electrical power ringfeed that was removed. The first management meeting was conducted at Hessel’s Oude Huys Kombuys on 15 April 2003 where these matters were taken forward and the chair introduced a concept constitution. A further management meeting was held on 6 May where the updated constitution, as was to be submitted to the next members’ meeting , planned for 19 June, was agreed upon. The forum became more dormant towards the end of the year yet continued to be closely related to the Meerhof club, even conducting meetings together.

A Management meeting was held on 22 April 2004 in preparation for the general meeting of 12 May at the Meerhof School . At this  meeting a decision was taken to integrate the activities of the Sunset Park Action group (under the chairmanship of Mr Johan Slump) with that of the Forum. The Constitution was approved and accepted and permission was given by members that a bank account could be opened. The whole of the management committee was re-elected except for Mr Jan Moller (Secretary) who did not make himself available for election. Ms Tanya Mulder was elected in his place. Notably the worsening of the security situation in Meerhof was also discussed on the meeting.

On 10 June a new issue surfaced as a meeting was called with the Meerhof residents by North West Province, UWP Consulting and TN Molefe Consulting, concerning a proposed East-West link-road (the so-called K20/K24 link-road , taking up a 62 meter reserve through the center of Meerhof) that would run right through Meerhof. Since there was (suspiciously much) enthusiasm from the authorities about the project, this was one of the greatest direct threats that the Meerhof Village ever faced, and the Forum immediately tabled the concerns and objections of the Meerhof Residents. Suspicions were rife that big money was involved at the development of Oberon, and these parties needed easy access, therein willing to sacrifice Meerhof for their cause. The Environmental Scoping Process was underway, and the public was invited to give inputs to the process. The road issue was further fiercely contested with UWP on a meeting on 10 June 2004 at the Meerhof School, and on 22 July the Management Committee, assembling at Oude Huys Kombuys, decided to canvass support from other organisations for the objection against the road. Letters on the matter were in due time dispatched to Madibeng Local Municipality, North West Province, the local Police, the DA and ACDP Councillors, the Roman Catholic Church, The Meerhof School and other organisations. A general meeting was held on 17 August 2004 at the Meerhof school where the progress of the Meerhof Club, the progress with the Sunset Park issue, the progress with the objections against the link-road and the security issues were discussed. Mr de Haas of BMR security addressed the meeting and offered to start preparations for a security plan for Meerhof. A security committee was elected to take the matter forward. On 14 October 2004 Newtown Landscape Architects held public meetings at Scheerpoort and at the Meerhof Chapel to request public participation in the K20/K24 environmental study.

Due to a specialist residing in Meerhof (Mr Johan Wentzel), an interest was taken in the growth of alien vegetation on the foreshore, in an area that was unilaterally fenced off by a businessman from Schoemansville and tightly controlled as a so-called ‘Bird-park’. At the time ‘Working-for-water’ was a government sponsored initiative to bring alien vegetation under control, and written permission was obtained from them to enter the premises and make an assessment of the situation, of which the department of Public Works was informed by fax. The premises was entered by a group of knowledgeable people on 27 November 2004, including delegates from Working-for-water and a report was compiled about the state of the land regarding plant-growth. This action evoked a very angry reaction from Mr Ben Selier of the North West Department of Public Works, who threatened the Forum with Legal action by faximilee, so that this conservation effort could not be taken forward. A letter to the Department of Water affairs to clarify the legal ownership position was never answered.

Towards the end of January 2005 the appointed consultants undertook a traffic counting exercise in preparation for traffic modelling that would form part of the Environmental Impact assessment for the proposed K20/K24 link road. Early February Karel Nel made contact with the modelling experts and undertook to monitor the validity of the whole of the modelling process, the results of  which were later shown to be inconclusive and even grossly misleading (e.g. promising an annual cost saving of  RM33 for the NW Department of Transport by the year 2015!). At an Annual General Meeting (13 March 2005), which was a combined meeting with the Meerhof Club, a new management committee was elected for the Meerhof Residents’ Forum, and Dr Manie Brynard was elected as the new chairman. The rest of 2005 the MRF was heavily involved in fending off this impending threat with correspondence, submissions, attending meetings etc.

At a General Meeting on 3 May 2006 at the house of Mr Mike Benn, Dr Manie Brynard resigned as chairman and Mr Karel Nel was requested to stand in as Chair until the next AGM that was scheduled for 19 July 2006. At this meeting Mr Fanie Engelbrecht of the Sunset Park Development Group brought along a team of experts to address the residents of Meerhof about impending developments on stand 275. The Environmental Impact report was to be handed  out soon. At this meeting it was reported that the future of the link-road was still inconclusive and that traffic modelling had to be re-visited. The General Meeting of 19 July was held at the Hall of Meerhof School and interesting presentations were received from HWAG (Dirk Bouwer and Rick van Rossum) and the Sunset Park Developers (Fanie Engelbrecht and Tiaan Schutte). Fanie inter alia addressed the legality of the land-exchange transaction and construction was scheduled to start in 2007. Des and Derek Erasmus addressed the meeting on developments at Jasmyn and announced the development of a Boutique hotel before 2010. Mr Mike Benn reported on the establishment of a Community Policing Forum and announced that a planning meeting will be held at the Schoemansville Oewerklub on 20 July 2006. An election of new management members was facilitated by Mr Benn and the following persons were elected, from which a chairperson was to be appointed at the next Management meeting: Frikkie Botha, Annette Botha, Johan Wolfaardt, Rhode Steinmann, Marita Lessing, Karen Krige, Tertius Truter, Jan Moller and Karel Nel. At the subsequent management meeting on 23 August 2006 in the Staff room of the Meerhof School,  Dr Johan Wolfaardt was duly elected as Chairman, and Marita Lessing as Secretary. Frikkie Botha proposed that similar organisations should be pioneered in other parts of Hartbeespoort. After two further Management Committee meetings on 4 October and 6 November, this eventful year drew to a close and the Meerhof Residents’ Forum was well on its way, with a very capable management Team to address the issues of the time.

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KPJ Nel

2015-02-24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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