In Afrikaans there is a lovely word that describes the mood when you have really been pushed too far. We then say we are now “gatvol” and when we say that we normally mean it.

Fredo thought about this description when he learnt about a dispute in one of Stilbaai’s neighbourhoods – with the local Hessequa Council. In short, a matter which has been allowed to drag on for close to three years, boiled over this week. The “gatvol” stage was reached when the citizens got a negative response to an appeal following council approval for the development of cluster housing – more than 30 units – on the old fynbos nursery site next to the Joggensfontein road.

The old nursery belonged to none other than the legendary late Prof Tol Pienaar, environmentalist and campaigner for the protection of the natural environment at Stilbaai. Fredo once spoke to the good Professor about his views on holistic development plans which should be in harmony with nature. To put it mildly, Prof Tol would turn in his grave if he knew what was happening on this beautiful piece of land.

Most people would agree that the site is probably suitable for four to six houses at the maximum. But more than 30? Plus the increase in traffic and the drain on infra-structure in what is an area where people invested a considerable amount of money in building homes which they thought would allow them to have a happy retirement.

The citizens – once told that the Hessequa Council had decided to approve the development – appealed the decision at great cost. After the appeal was considered, they were told that they had to put up with the decision or shut up. What sent the temperature over the top, was when they were further told that the Council has also decided to increase the units from the mid-30’s to 50 houses.

That was when the “gatvol” level was breached. Now it seems that an ‘Opstoot”, which is another Afrikaans word for ‘Revolt’, would be inevitable. The Council, probably realizing that they bit off more than they could chew so close to the local government election on 1 November, suggested the two parties smoke a peace pipe. The citizens were invited to a meeting at the Council, but when some 60 of them accepted the invitation, the Council backtracked. “We can only meet with ten representatives,” they said.

The social media went crazy, something which is obviously of concern for the governing party so close to the election. Afterall, with competition between the parties contesting the election increasing, the governing party is concerned that bad publicity will cost them votes.

Elections and ‘opstootjies’ of the past

Fredo recently blogged about the fact that these days elections are not the same anymore. In earlier years people took elections seriously. Party meetings often developed in brawls or what essentially was a good punch-up in the back of the hall. With the good citizens in such a mood, who knows what could happen at the meeting which is due for next week. It is time for cool heads and staying friendly with the citizens if you are the government.

When Fredo first moved to Stilbaai and saw that his neighbour was working in his garage in his red overall, he was delighted. Fredo promptly introduced his own party – the EFF (Environmentally Friendly Fellows – with predominantly red colours) – not to be confused with Julius’ red party. His neighbour at first was confused and just about saw red. Julius’ party is clearly not welcome in this neighbourhood.

Now, with this new “Opstoot” looming, the citizens know Fredo’s party well – the Environmentally Friendly Fellows fights for living in harmony with nature.

The citizens said they would welcome Frodo’s support – they may even consider voting for his party.

Fredo hopes that the Hessequa Council will take the views of its citizens seriously. Hessequa is clearly a well-governed council. That is why Fredo cannot understand why they allow this kind of situation to develop, especially at such a critical time. This kind of project will clearly put more money in the Council coffers and will make some businessman rich.

In times of distress, in the old days, one of Fredo’s friends always used to shout out – “What about the workers?”

Fredo almost feels inclined to now shout out – “What about the citizens?”