Among the Members

For up-to-date news, activities and calendar of events please visit  

This biodiversity stewardship project aims to provide formal conservation protection for the area of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, and beyond. 

* - * - * - * - * - * - *

Among the members

Open cockpit adventure

On the morning we set off on this adventure we were met at the airfield by a reception of about 20 people – friends, family and neighbours, but also the crew from e-news. It resembled a movie set, and was a fitting start for this incredible adventure. We hope you enjoy this abbreviated account of our journey, experiences and effort on behalf of Reach for a Dream.


The take-off was the culmination of weeks of planning, paperwork and preparation.
We flew along the ridge of the entire Magaliesberg mountain range and landed in Lichtenburg in windy conditions.


Patron of the Conservancy

Deep in the heart of the Karoo lives a princess. She is not a local princess but a Dutch royal, and she’s on a mission to help all of us regain our relationship with nature. It’s all about balance, she says, and she’s not just talking about it.

(This article is written by GUY LIEBERMAN.  He writes about the Patron of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy, Princess Irene.


Local Mad Scientist

Meet Professor Pink

Professor Pink emerged from some time machine experiment that popped into this century and joined the Knock Knock team in 2007
In his dim past we found that he grew up somewhere in the Northern Cape, went to Stellenbosch University where he studied maths and solid state physics.
He has a great appetite for knowledge of just about anything.  Especially big machines, rockets, explosions and things that make a lot of noise, and the smell of diesel and dust.

Professor Pink has shared some of his best "DO try this at home" experiments for young and enquiring minds.

Hennops Primary School

In the foothills of the Schurveberg mountain range lies the Hennops Primary School. It is a small school, providing bilingual instruction and small classes, rarely possible these days. Acting Headmaster Mrs Marais, is resident in Hennops River, and she explains that the school offers a unique opportunity to residents of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy. At Hennops Primary learners are given a foundation in confidence and education, preparing them well for the road ahead. The classes are small and teachers have enough time to devote to the learners' needs. Afrikaans and English instructions is offered. The school is well-tended, and indigenous gardens fringe the sports fields. A school bus provides transport for children located outside of walking distance from the school. The school also provides a feeding scheme for learners who come from poor homes. The school fees are about R5000 per year (2010). Visit

Celebrating with the Duigans

Anthony and Helen Duigan  - names synonmous with the Conservancy - celebrated 40 years of marriage on Sunday.  And they did so in good spirits, surrounded by family and friends.

The couple arrived in "country style", bumping along in the same trusty bakkie that a few weeks before had carried Ghandi's grandson into the conservancy.  Perfectly attired as bride and groom, Helen primly clutched an aloe, and Anthony flourished a red radish (leaves and all)  jauntily in his pocket. A cheer and a honk announned their arrival and the grandchildren heartily joined in the noise-making.


Following a green story at Bathabile

Batahbile Primary School in Doornrandje is the focus of much energetic labour, innovation and goodwill.

To follow the story of how a few dedicated people can change the lves of many, visit the school's own website and click on "see us grow".

New classroom - new skills and new friends

Bathabile School has been bursting out of its seams this year, and classrooms are just not adequate.

The work went out, and the surrounding community - the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy and the Laezonia/Doonrnrandje Blockwatch - has responded to the need.


Laezonia lends a hand

With the recent "Ride the Rhenoster" mountain bike event, the Laezonia community policing forum was approached to assist with the management of riders crossing the busy R511.

Pine Pienaar was asked to provide support, and he did so graciously and with great diligence.

Pine and his team remained on duty, standing in the sun beside the road to make sure every rider crossed the road safely.

The riders left from Hennops Primary School and entered the gate at Hennops River on the western side.  The crossing was situated in an 80km speed zone, but many drivers pay little heed to the road conditions on this bend.

To Laezonia, a great big Thank You! from the Conservancy.  You are good neighbours.


We of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy believe all life has value beyond monetary measures. In response to this, we are creating opportunities to conserve life in all its abundant diversity within this region of rivers, mountains, grasslands and bushveld.

Three principles guide our efforts:


We will work to make a difference by taking responsibility to protect the place where we live and are nurtured.


We will cooperate with all those willing to care for this region, drawing together as a local community to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Conservancy.


We will carefully consider how we use our resources, defining ourselves not by what and how we consume, but by what we refuse to destroy. As stewards of the land, we strive to restore and heal our damaged natural systems.



Residents tour the RNC

Residents of the RNC clambered into their vehicles on Sunday, and set out to see more of their own Conservancy, this gem of a place.

Photographs sent in by Tom Klaasen: 

Residents on tour of the RNC


A manifesto for the RNC

A couple of weeks ago, invitations were sent far and wide for people to come together and talk about the future of the RNC.


Local author and e-publisher Caroline Addenbrooke

Caroline is a writer, and now an "e-publisher". 

Caroline believes that e-publishing is the future of publishing.  With Joan De la Haye, Caroline has created Rebel ePublishers.

She says "Rebel e Publishers is a Writers publisher for Writers. It focuses on selecting and publishing quality books of all genres". 

"The Gates of Hell" Caroline's own novel, is published by Rebel e Publishers. 


Rebel e Publishers

Caroline Addenbrooke's Blog


Local Artist Lee Pienaar

"not until the last river has been poisoned...not until the last fish has been caught, will we realize we can't eat money ~ 19th Century Cree Indian"

Lee Pienaar says about herself, "living and working in the countryside of Hartebeespoort Dam, South Africa; embracing all that Life is bringing my way; enthralled with my journey"

To view lee's work visit her website

Bathabile – a success story

Growing a school that the Department of Education threatened to close down, from 116 learners in 2005 to 636 in three years, takes a dedicated team and hard work. When Solly Kotu, the principal of Bathabile Primary School in Doornrandje, took over in 2005, he managed to persuade the Department to give Bathabile another chance. The result is impressive.

Because many of the learners are orphans, a large vegetable garden was created so that each learner could be given at least one nutritious meal a day. To cheer up the drab buildings, a new coat of paint was applied and flowers and a lawn were planted.

Local residents have pitched in to help, supplying manure, compost, labour and trees (planted by the learners on Arbour Day). Trevor Garbett, the RNC committee’s new member, sourced a computer to the delight of the staff who need to prepare educational material. Jan Hill (Doornrandje) arrived last week with a jungle gym, which had the little ones clambering over it in minutes. Other residents supplied old tyres, used in the veg garden for planting potatoes, and mulch to save on watering.

Bathabile School - Working together

Bathabile has undertaken to clean up the litter on the stretch of road running past the school. “That is one contribution we can make from our side to the local community,” says Solly Kotu. If you would like to support Bathabile, the following items will be welcome:

Paint; children’s clothes and shoes; books for the library; a laminating machine; cupboards, tables and chairs; an irrigation system for the veg garden; tanks to catch rainwater; shade cloth; more manure and compost; trees and seedlings (veg and flowers); internet; sports equipment; paving; floor tiles.

Items can be delivered to the school (tel 012 669 0857). There are clear directions from Skyview Garage on the R511. Or contact one of the RNC committee members.

Land, building and buying in the Conservancy

The Conservancy Committee has approached the Tshwane Municipality and the Madibeng Municipality to clarify the policy and bylaws related to buildings, listed activities, land use and division of land.

In 2007 there has also been input from the National Department of Agriculture - much of the land in the Conservancy is zoned "Agriculture".

Please note that the following article applies to all residents, not merely those who belong to the Conservancy as these are not Conservancy laws.

This is a brief document to outline the policy and bylaws you are likely to encounter. It is stated simply, and directly. Details may consequently be lost, and you are advised to clarify specifics and not to make assumptions that could place you on the wrong side of the law.

The document is not a series of polite suggestions; it is bluntly what is required of you in order to conform with the laws, bylaws and policies which apply to this area.


Am I Legal?

Landowners within RNC are required to fulfill certain legal obligations and adhere to local government rules. Information is provided as a service, and is NOT the dictate of the Conservancy, rather the laws, acts and governance of the various government departments.

To make the volume of information more accessible, "Am I Legal?" was prepared by Helen Duigan for distribution within Conservancies.

"If you are planning to buy land in the RNC, please read the requirements of the law carefully to avoid costly misunderstandings."

In the past having a place "in the country" may have allowed much leeway and regulations may have appeared to be lenient. This is no longer the case. The members of the RNC have found the Environmental law to be sound and powerful in the protection of the valuable sites.

ow to get things done without getting into trouble! Am I legal?

• What can I do on my property?
• How do I know what is legal?
• What activities and improvements must I get approval for?
• Where do I get approval?

Building regulations

Most of Rhenosterspruit falls under Tshwane and their building regulations apply to all of us.

Any new structure needing a foundation needs approval – this covers sheds, barns, swimming pools, cottages, workers’ quarters, rooms added to existing homes, septic tanks… The list is comprehensive and if you’re in doubt, check first. (Building inspectors have started checking homes in Laezonia, asking for plans and proof of approval.) If you can’t find your house plans (or they got lost when we changed from West Rand to Tshwane), make a plan to have new ones drawn up.

Enquiries and land-use applications: Lodi Olivier (Planning):012 358 3589 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Complaints re illegal structures: Tersia Barnard (Building Office): 012 358 3858 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Environmental legislation

Activities that need approval from the municipal council's Department of Environment or from GDACE (Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment) are called 'Listed Activities' and they form part of legislation R1182. (Please note: These are not 'Conservancy rules', but national legislation.)

The main activities needing approval pertinent to the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy are:

  • Dams, levees and weirs affecting the flow of a river.
  • Racing tracks for motor-powered vehicles.
  • Schemes for the use of ground-water (or surface water) for bulk supply purposes – e.g. large-scale irrigation.
  • Canals and channels, including structures causing disturbance to the flow of water in a river, and water transfer schemes. (A canal is an artificial watercourse used for irrigation.) Also pipelines for major schemes.
  • Public and private resorts and associated infrastructure.
  • Change of land-use from agricultural to any other land use (any non-agricultural use including new residential smallholding estates, shooting ranges, golf courses.)
  • Change of land-use from use for nature conservation (or zoned open space) to any other land use.
  • The concentration of livestock or poultry in confined structures for the purpose of commercial production.
  • The release of any plant or animal that has been declared a weed or invasive alien species.
  • The reclamation of wetlands.
  • Any road or track in an area regarded by the relevant authority as a sensitive area.

GDACE enquiries: Mashudu Dzivhani: 011 355 2292 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (note the spelling!). If you have problems getting through to GDACE, contact the RNC committee.

Community policing: Is this the way to manage crime?

Sadly, today everyone has their own crime story to tell. There has been an increase in criminal activity in the Conservancy over recent years (seemingly in line with general trends).

So what about Community Policing Forums? Do they work and is this a way to be proactively involved?

Sue Hatfield has been busy. And most recently, attended the Community Policing Forum.

On the upside, since the police now have a base on the R511 (at Dewina, close to Gemstone Road) responding to calls may be quicker.

On the downside, threatening road closures across the Conservancy may means help is up to three times further away.

VeldTalk has reported on various incidences in the last month - attacks in Roodekrans, Doornrandje and attempted hijackings.

  • Drive attentively, and be cautious when stopping your car for "obstructions" in the road.
  • Keep the grass around entrances and drives short so that you have visibility.
  • Know your neighbours, and call if anything looks suspicious at their home
  • Keep your cellphone charged - you never know when you need it
  • Have a torch at hand, and check the batteries regularly
  • And if you own a weapon, make sure it is kept safely and securely

Want to get involved or find out more about Community Policing Forum? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

RNC and Schools

The RNC residents support and assist various schools and initiatives with children.

Rifilwe a charity organization situated at St Ansgars, near Lanseria Airport, and Bathabile School in Doornrandje are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of people.

The Karee Chronicle last year featured Refilwe (Refilwe means “gift”in Tswana.) They are involved a large number of projects, from a TB and HIV/Aids Clinic, to a child care centre for orphaned children and after school activities for vulnerable kids. Responding to this article, several RNC residents got involved.

Vijay Loosen (Roodekrans) who manages House of Orange branches (pure fruit juices etc) has “adopted” Refilwe as her choice of charity. Others have donated toys, books, magazines and second-hand clothes. If you want to help, contact project leader Jaco van Schalkwyk – 082 465 6972. Or drop in to see what they are doing and bring your own “gift”.

Pat Stanton-Humphreys from Laezonia wrote: “I recently visited Bathabile School in Doornrandje and was very impressed with the work the headmaster is doing to upgrade the school. His staff are also feeding 300+ learners everyday, 120 of whom are orphans or child-headed households.

He has established a large vegetable garden in order to make soup for the learners. He has requested donations of old computers, children's books and bookshelves, also any food. Please let people know that help will be very welcome.”

A couple of Doornrandje residents - Hills and Angus - have also pitched in Bathabile. All have been impressed with the manner in which the school makes the most of resources. Jan Hill recently ran an Art Competition at Bathabile. On World Environment Day children got in touch with what the environment means to them, and the response was painted on shopping bags. These bags were used at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Conservancies. Additional bags were purchased by delegates, and 50% of this income goes directly to the school.

If there are people interested in forming a Focus Group around schooling in the area, please drop a note to Mercia Komen (See Contacts). She will in turn co-ordinate with those residents in Doornrandje already assisting.


Shopping Bag Art
Shpping Bag Art


Green Living with Alistair

Alastair Armstrong in Hills and Dales invites anyone who has an interest in renewable energy, alternative building methods, etc to join a new Conservancy Forum: NewFutures Forum.

He has already explored alternatives to Eskom (see Karee Chronicle Dec 2004) and is building his house using alternative techniques. He has sourced several books on the subject, and is very willing to share his experience - what works, what doesn't, new methods, source of materials, costs, etc with anyone who is interested in becoming less dependent on Eskom, Telkom or other service providers.

You don't have to be actively involved in projects (yet) to join - if you want to be kept in the loop, ask questions, receive info, pass on information - this Forum is for you.

A comment from Alastair: There are major benefits in using passive solar heating and cooling in alternative building techniques, apart from cost saving. You're free of the dependence on fossil fuels for heating the home in winter (i.e. coal / wood / gas / etc) and cooling in summer (i.e. air conditioning / fans / electricity / etc). Lower bills and a healthy, homely environment in tune with nature and our surroundings! An environmentally-responsible home with a unique identity and beauty!

If you are interested in joining this Forum, please contact Alastair 083 565 7384.

See also Events for Alistair and Sonja's training workshops.