GONG-GONG, OUR HERITAGE & OUR HOME
A history of Gong-Gong
This piece does not in any way purport to be scientific or a thesis of any kind. It is based on records available to us and on the oral history as passed on from generation to generation.
THE EARLY YEARS
The land was transferred to Mr. William Pussey on 13 May 1880. Prior to that day it was the property of the London Exploration Company.
In 1879, on 22 February, portion 223/1940 was transferred to Mr. Frederick Johannes Waldeck. Mr. Waldeck is the ancestor of many of the people that lived & continue to live on Gong-Gong. Paulus Williams, Petrus (Pouka) Waldeck, Henry Kock, Connie & Frank Williams are all descendants of Mr. Waldeck. There are many more.
On 21 December 1955 the farm was proclaimed alluvial diggings as per the Government Gazette dated 15 January 1954. This meant that the area was now unfit for human habitation and companies could come and dig for diamonds here.
However, it never happened at the scale the government hoped it would happen.
INHABITANTS OF GONG-GONG
The Griqua people and a small group of ethnic Blacks were the original inhabitants of this farm even before Mr. Pussey bought the farm in 1880. This is borne out in graves preceding the purchase of the land. These graves proof that even before the arrival of Christianity, our people knew that their dead should be buried decently. This community lived here before the arrival of the White settlers in Barkley West in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
They were not literate in the western sense of the word but they were also not complete idiots. They had a political structure that governed them. There was a Chief who was the highest authority here and he had his council made up of various deputy chiefs.
This community is a microcosm of life in the Northern Cape prior to colonization and the resultant hardships that brought about by it & the complete westernization of a community. Colonization was the start of a repetitive traumatization of this community over the next 200 years. The ownership of the farm changed hands from one owner to the next and the only constant was the Griquas that lived here. The various owners of the farm never expected the people to leave the farm and life continued. The people lived very closely to nature, using water from the Vaal River, keeping livestock, using herbs and other plants from the veld to cure their various ailments.
THE VERY EARLY YEARS
- The establishment of Waldeck’s Plant
In 1870 Waldeck’s Plant came into existence as a separate community after the land was transferred to Mr. Waldeck. This area was basically “clan property” since the majority of the inhabitants were related to the owner. They lived on the west bank of the Vaal River with the rest of the community remaining on the east bank. Diamonds were discovered there later and the inhabitants got more involved in the diamond mining aspects of life. Many of them obtained mining permits and starting mining on a very small scale. People build homes, schools and their lives on the property. All these developments and happy living were possible because Waldeck’s Plant was not yet declared alluvial grounds at this stage.
The demise of Waldeck’s Plant
When the area was proclaimed alluvial grounds the community’s problems commenced. White companies moved into the area to look for the diamonds in the ground.
This mining activities led to:
- destruction of homes, schools & churches
- the disruption of a community’s way of life;
- the culling of livestock;
- ultimately the removal of residents from Waldeck’s Plant;
- the break-up of families
- the vast majority relocated from the west to the east bank of the river, present day Gong-Gong;
- the population of Gong-Gong exploded exponentially
- Black people who lost their jobs on the mines also relocated to Gong-Gong. Most of them settled in an area near the waterfall which later became known as “Upper” Gong-Gong, others went to settle in areas known as Rooirand & Brakfontein.
- Big business enters the fray
In 1884 the Vaal River Diamond Company utilised Section 13 of Act No 5 of the Cape of Good Hope to expropriate the land. They paid the government the princely sum of £ 3 160.00. The Registrar of Deeds at the time was one Mr. Kirsten. The registration of the land in the name of Vaal River Diamond Company took place on 20 September 1884. The previous owners were the Diamond Proprietary Mines Ltd.
During all these transfers of ownership the Griqua and the Blacks were living on Gong-Gong.
None of the various owners of the land ever attempted to evacuate the inhabitants from the farm. The residents and the mining companies co-existed in relative peace on the property.
Present day Waldeck’s Plant – 2013
The mining that took place in the area completely desecrated the place, the spirit of the people and stripped them of any form of dignity. This desecration manifested itself in the following ways:
To Be Continued...
Brief history of the Land Claim on Gong-Gong Farm 371
History has it, that prior to 1967, the community of Gong-Gong comprised of a mixture of different races that lived peacefully together and with each other. Griqua, Coloured, Black and Indian all lived harmoniously on a farm called Gong-Gong. In 1967 however, the mixed-race community of Gong-Gong, was unexpectedly torn apart by the segregation laws under the Apartheid regime. Black people were forcefully removed from the farm and were taken to places like Delportshoop and Pampierstad. The People were literally forced onto trucks and couriered off under protest, but to no avail. The Indian people chose to walk away on their own merit. Griqua and Coloured people stubbornly refused to leave their ancestral land, and they ended up staying on the farm. They were left behind when the African or Black people were forcefully removed from this Farm 371, in 1967. Life later slowly returned to normal until the then Apartheid Government also tried to get rid of them in the later years.
In 1985, the Apartheid regime attempted to forcefully remove the Coloured and the remnants of Griqua people from Gong-Gong Farm 371 as well. Their plans were derailed by furious and stubborn resistance, under the leadership of August Jacobus Jood in 1986, with the bombarding of their offices with correspondence from this community. The then Coloured representative in the then Tri Cameral Parliament, relented, and Gong-Gong Farm 371 was eventually purchased for the Coloured and the Griqua people in 1986. Transfer of the land was never completed due to the advent of the new political order in the country. The then Department of Agriculture, led by David Curry, transferred the land to the Community Development Board under the custodianship of the Northern Cape Housing Board. Part of their duty was to ensure they train members of the community to eventually take over the administration of the land. This idea failed hopelessly. In 2003, after the implementation of the new political dispensation, the land was transferred to Dikgatlong Municipality for custodianship.
When the land claims process opened up, the African or Black members of the Gong-Gong community that were forcefully removed from Farm 371 in 1967, lodged what they called, the “Gong-Gong Community Claim” under the leadership of Mr. Lesiba John Mashiane, on 14 December 1998, (claim number M1968).
The Farms that they claimed they were removed from, were: Farms 169, 222, 230, Good Hope Farm 286, Farm 369, Gong-Gong Farm 371 and Bad Hope Farm 372.
During the investigation of this “Community Claim”, the Regional Land Claims Commissioner (RLCC) discovered that an established community were already living on Gong-Gong Farm 371, and they were not part of the Land Claim. After investigation, they discovered that these were the Griqua and Coloured people that stayed behind when the Black People were so brutally relocated in 1967.
Some of the African or Black people that were forcefully removed in 1967, had subsequently returned when the racially discriminatory laws were abolished between 1991 and 1993, and they were co-existing peacefully with the Griqua and Coloured people in Gong-Gong at the time the claim was lodged.
When this “Gong-Gong Community Claim” was gazetted in 2005, (seven years after it was lodged), the gazetteer failed to inform the Coloured and Griqua people, residing on Gong-Gong Farm 371, of this claim.
This failure of the RLCC to inform residents of Gong-Gong of the gazetting of the “Gong-Gong Community Claim” as required in section 11(6) of Act22 of 1994, ensured that the community were oblivious to it, and thus could not use the window of opportunity that was available then, to make representations, and to present the information about the purchasing of Gong-Gong Farm 371 for the Coloured and the Griqua People that happened in 1986. This would have protected their interests, as far as the claim on Gong-Gong Farm 371 was concerned. In essence, because of the negligence of the RLCC, an important opportunity to was lost to an entire community of 400 families.
The Coloured and Griqua people attempted to gain membership and to be part of the so called “Gong-Gong Community Claim”, but because they were never forcefully removed, their attempts were unsuccessful and it was met with hostility by most of the claiming members. Even when the Gong-Gong Communal Property Association (the official representative body for the claimants) was established in 2012, the Coloured and Griqua people from Gong-Gong, were humiliated and literally chased out of the meeting that was held in Mataleng in Barkly West.
The Coloured and Griqua people realised then, that to be able to protect and fight for their rights on Gong-Gong Farm 371, they had to come together and form an organization that would be recognised by the various Government Departments that was involved in the matters of Gong-Gong, Farm 371. Out of necessity, the Griqua People’s Heritage Organization was formed.
The Griqua People's Heritage (GPH) is a Non-Profit Organization, (NPC 2016/150178/08. PBO No: 930054291. Income Tax Number: 9047179255) based in, and representing the Gong-Gong community members whose ancestors were classified as Griqua prior to amendments to the Population Registration Act of the previous regime.
When the Gong-Gong Community Claim was settled, by the grace of God, Gong-Gong Farm 371 was not restored to “The Gong-Gong Communal Property Association (CPA)” because the majority of the claiming members decided to waive the restoration of their right to land ,and opted for financial compensation instead. Without analysing the implications of entering into the agreement with the Minister, the Gong-Gong Community Claiming Members accepted the financial compensation and alternative land, (farms 230, 222 and 372) that was offered to them as restoration and settlement of the Gong-Gong Community Claim, by the RLCC.
After accepting the settlement award, the Gong-Gong Community Claim members are now at loggerheads with the GPH, because the latter are currently in the process of pursuing the transfer of Gong-Gong Farm 371 to the GPH.
The Gong-Gong Community Claim Members, the “CPA”, are adamant that they are entitled to own Gong-Gong Farm 371 and even went to court for it. They are currently awaiting the issuing of a mining permit to mine for diamonds on Gong-Gong Farm 371, even though there was no public participation process (as is required by the Department of Minerals and Energy) to which all residents of Gong-Gong Farm 371 were invited.
The GPH tried to engage the “Gong-Gong CPA” about it and informed them about the process the GPH was pursuing to get Farm 371 transferred to them by virtue of the proof they have and showed it to them, but that only fuelled the rivalry even further.
Despite being armed with proof that Gong-Gong Farm 371 was purchased in 1986 for the Coloured and the Griqua people who were never forcefully removed from Farm 371, after numerous requests by the GPH to the RLCC, COGHSTA and the Dikgatlong Municipality to transfer Gong-Gong Farm 371 to the GPH, their efforts yielded no results.
The GPH are being sent from pillar to post because no one seems to know what to do in such a situation. People who were supposed to assist them, gets agitated when they frequent their offices in search of solutions to the problem. They are being ridiculed as “complainants” and not “claimants” (therefore not entitled to assistance of any kind form RLCC) to discourage them from pursuing the matter.
The following questions comes up:
When the Gong-Gong community claim was gazetted in 2005:
- Did the Dikgatlong Municipality, the legal custodian at this stage, receive a notice contemplated in section 11(6) from the RLCC?
- Did the Municipality inform the residents of such pending action?
- Did the Dikgatlong Municipality object to the Gong-Gong Farm 371 part of the Gong-Gong community claim as contemplated in section 34(1) when it received the notice contemplated in section 11(6) as provided for in section?
- Why did the RLCC not restore Gong-Gong Farm 371 to the so-called Gong-Gong CPA?
It appears that Dikgatlong Municipality allowed itself to be usurped and used by the RLCC to sustain and support the unlawful claim of the CPA on Farm 371. At every opportunity the municipality has, they will tell all and sundry that the farm belongs to the CPA. The previous Mayor, in a public meeting, indicated that he almost committed a criminal act by signing a Service Level Agreement with the CPA on land that does not belong to them…