The Kleinzee Concept

by Trevor Watkins   30/10/2019

Most people Identify themselves as fair and freedom loving individuals. Most people are polite and respectful of each other and their property. And yet most people live within a state that is neither fair nor free nor respectful of them and their property.

The individualist movement seeks to give a home and a voice to those individuals who insist on independence and respect. The individualist manifesto defines how we expect to be treated and how we agree to treat others. But how is this vision to be manifested in a country and a world that seems to be overrun by authoritarian statists?

An increasingly popular approach is for a group of individuals sharing a common philosophy to  secede from the dominant state within which they live. There is a long list of successful city-states that have separated themselves from the nation states in which they are embedded, such as Monaco, Lichtenstein, Singapore and  Hong Kong. In South Africa we have the example of Orania.

This document describes a plan for implementing a seceded state in the town of Kleinzee on the north west coast of South Africa.


 At the end of 2019 the situation in South Africa is rapidly becoming untenable. There's no gas left in the economic tank, said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in the medium-term Budget statement. There is a looming debt trap, unsustainable state-owned enterprises, difficult decisions, major sacrifices and serious conflicts ahead.. 

Crime and corruption are out of control,  health services and schools are a disaster,  infrastructure is in shambles, civil unrest is widespread.  South Africa will become a Zimbabwe or a Venezuela in the short to medium term. 

Many thousands of the most wealthy and productive citizens have emigrated.  The options are bleak for those who can't afford the cost of emigration.  

The secession of the Western Cape has  gone from a pipe dream to a popular idea in recent years,  with at least five different organisations claiming support levels of several hundred thousand.  The South African constitution specifically allows for secession by identifiable cultural groups. However, most of these groups are looking at unrealistically large tracts of land, generally including the whole of the Western Cape and surrounding areas. In addition, most of these groups do not subscribe to classical liberal principles or show much respect for the rights of individuals.

The Individualist Movement believes that Orania provides the blueprint for a successful secession strategy in the South African context.  A geographically small area with already existing infrastructure is populated by a group of people sharing a common philosophy towards governance.  Kleinzee fits this description well. 


The objective is to establish an independent,  self-governing entity based on the geographical area of Kleinzee which is no longer subject to rule by the South African state. The rules of governance for this entity would be decided only by the current occupants of the entity after a period of  negotiation and consolidation.

A  major objective would be to persuade sufficient people of a classical liberal mindset to  purchase property in Kleinzee and to move there in a 2 to 3 year timeframe.

It would be hoped that an independent Kleinzee would become a prosperous community and that it would attract further immigrants, businesses and Investment. 

A long-term objective would be to serve as a model of a free society  that would be emulated by other communities in the vicinity and further afield. 


Kleinzee or Kleinsee is a small Village on the west coast of the Northern Cape province in South Africa,

Kleinzee is a village just south of Grootmis at the mouth of the Buffels River, 72 km south-east of Port Nolloth and 105 km west of Springbok. It is known for its diamond-mining operations. Founded after 1927, the name is Dutch and means 'small sea', referring to a lagoon at the mouth of the Buffels River.[2]

The Buffels River "flows" through Kleinsee, but most of the time it is just a dry river bed and only flows approximately every ten years.

Its population size generally consisted of around 2,000 residents, but was considerably reduced by the down-scaling of mining activities in 2009.

Legend tells that a teacher by the name De Villagers from the local farm school had built a new school. He was looking for lime deposits to whitewash the walls. Accompanied by a builder called Alberts he kicked at a mound in the veld and then dislodged a diamond with the toe of his shoe. It was then recorded as the first alluvial diamond found about a year after the discovery of the deposits at Alexander Bay. Within three weeks De Villagers and Alberts collected diamonds worth £600 which was a small fortune in those days. They then sold their claims to an exploration company which eventually opened up the Kleinsee 'crater', reminiscent of the 'Big Hole' at Kimberley. This area then become known as the Diamond Coast.

Life after De Beers

From https://mg.co.za › article › 2011-11-18-diamond-mines-are-not-forever

Koingnaas and Kleinzee were once flourishing mining towns, but now that De Beers has pulled out, the two Namaqualand dorpies face an uncertain future.

Kleinzee, with 370 houses, a hospital, primary school and a golf course, is bigger than Koingnaas. But most of its houses are also empty, the town’s population having dwindled to about 400 people, a quarter of whom still work for De Beers in the departments of maintenance and security. In 1989 there were three schools and 651 young pupils. Today the seven remaining company teachers instruct 50 pupils, who still take their swimming lessons in one of the town’s Olympic-sized pools, although it is no longer heated.

Diamond mining started in Namaqualand in 1926 and, after a brief pause during World War II, De Beers bought out the struggling Cape Coast Exploration Company and scaled up operations until they were extracting a million carats a year. At its peak in the Eighties more than 3 000 people were employed in Kleinzee and the town’s population was probably double that. A thousand people lived in Koingnaas.

Residents, past and present, describe a paradise, an oasis in the desert, a place where people came for six months and stayed for 20 years. “Die beste jare van ons lewe.” (“The best years of our lives.”) Water, electricity and rent were free. Before 1975 residents were shuttled to work, to shop or to indulge in the company-funded recreation activities. After a generation of living in a closed mining town, some residents are finding it difficult to adapt to life outside.

On a Thursday night at the Crazy Crayfish Diner near the beach a few bakkies are lined up in the car park and a handful of people stand around a fire remembering the old days.

“It was paradise, alright,” says Charles Weyers, an electrician who has lived in Kleinzee for almost 40 years and worked on the mine. “A real fool’s paradise.”

His wife, Natalie, who was employed in the De Beers payroll department until she was laid off in 2009, owns the diner, which previously housed the diving club and now serves simple seafood—and crayfish in season—three nights a week, if you place your order by phone in the afternoon.

Charles, back from an oil rig in Nigeria, tries to remember the activities of Kleinzee. He uses his fingers to tick off the sport clubs: badminton, bowls, cricket, darts, hockey, netball, tennis, golf, rugby, jukskei, snooker, squash and soccer. Then the camping, caravanning, hiking, angling, diving, hunting and gun clubs. The camera club, chess and bridge clubs and the arts and crafts centre where women were instructed in macrame, batik, fabric painting and pottery. And the riding club, with 20 stables and—at one stage—a herd of Appaloosas.

Doctors, dentists, radiographers and physiotherapists worked at the fully equipped hospital, situated conveniently beside the golf course. Visiting specialists performed surgery, including breast enlargements, babies were born and a plane was on standby for medical emergencies.

There were Christmas trees, fashion shows and ox braais, wine tastings and beer fests. Once a year Nicky Oppenheimer brought in teams of sportsmen—including ex-Springboks—to compete with the town’s club members. The New Year parties were legendary. At one of them a local resident, Johan Stemmet, that perennially well-groomed host of Noot vir Noot, made his musical debut at the age of 11. Musicians like Gé Korsten, Sonia Heroldt and Steve Hofmeyr gave performances. In 1978 the concert by Four Jacks and a Jill was a smash hit.

“There’s even a yacht club,” Weyers says, looking up from his fingers. “One of the general managers liked sailing, so they dug out an artificial sea-water lake, half a kilometre long. The pumps are still running but the water’s very salty.”

After a pause, he says: “Maybe we should turn it into a salt mine.”

In 2007, as the diamond yield fell, De Beers began laying off workers. In 2008 mining operations in the area were halted and, in May 2011, De Beers announced the sale of Namaqualand Mines to Trans Hex for R225-million. Trans Hex will buy the mines through Emerald Panther Trading, an associate company in which it owns 50% of the shares. RECM, Calibre and Dinoka Investment Holdings hold the remainder, with the exception of 5%, which was allocated to historically disadvantaged groups not specifically named.

Trans Hex, a small-scale operator with a proposed workforce of 500, will mine the remaining two to three million accessible carats of diamonds at a rate of 100 000 carats a year and will accept responsibility for rehabilitating the extensive environmental damage caused by decades of mining, according to De Beers officials. De Beers has estimated the environmental liability to stand at roughly R200-million, although conservation groups believe the actual figure might be three times that.

Trans Hex will not take over the two towns. With De Beers pulling out and the bulk of the diamonds gone, the few remaining people are looking for an alternative income and for the past three years the word on everyone’s lips has been proclamation.

Rob Blake, De Beers’s project manager for town proclamation and local economic development, says that, when mining ceases, all remaining structures, including houses, are classified as mining disturbances. By law mining towns should be bulldozed, buried and planted over.

To avoid this fate an application was initiated in 2008 by De Beers for Kleinzee to be declared a public town aligned to the Nama Khoi municipality.

But cash-strapped municipalities are justifiably wary of accepting further responsibility and local government delays have been exacerbated by a change of the municipal manager in Springbok following recent elections. If Kleinzee is proclaimed, residents will be given the option to buy their Seventies-style mine houses, at prices ranging from R50 000 to R200 000. De Beers has engaged a property developer to refurbish, market and sell the remaining houses, sports clubs and other buildings. Urban designers and architects will work together to create an architectural theme, according to Blake, who oversaw the proclamation of Cullinan, the former mining town near Pretoria.

“Cullinan was a huge success,” says Blake. “Everything was sold within months and a few residents resold their houses within days for double what they had paid for them.”

These are the stories the people of Kleinzee like to hear—but waiting is difficult. Retrenchment packages intended for the purchase of houses have instead been spent on rent and some people were forced to give up and move away. With further lay-offs and the town unable to move forward, the scattering of local businesses face bankruptcy. Some people feel aggrieved at being excluded from the development deal.

At the Kleinzee Golf Club, where the bar is decorated with empty Jägermeister bottles, brandy and Cokes are selling briskly to a handful of club members on a Friday night. An impressive array of beer bellies is on show and the talk, as the ashtrays fill, concerns the latest round of retrenchments and the recent deaths of two illegal miners in a cave-in near Koingnaas. The men are believed to have been from the settlement of Komaggas, where 1 000 workers have lost their jobs with De Beers.

When club members speak of the old days, they remember the parties, the sense of community and the safety. Once the town is proclaimed, people say they want to keep the boomed gate and 24-hour guards.

On Wednesday and Friday nights in Kleinzee, when the Crazy Crayfish Diner is closed, Koos “Oom Polony” Coetzee, the town’s part-time butcher, braais steaks and sosaties at the golf club. There is a third restaurant in town—the Desert Rose Bistro, owned by Andrew and Mildred, a couple who asked that we use only their first names.

Koingnaas, to the south, falls under the municipality of Kamieskroon and was proclaimed a public town earlier this year. Nine of its 130 houses were sold to retirees, contractors and a few De Beers employees. But nothing much has happened since. However, Blake believes both towns—and particularly Kleinzee—are on the up. He might be right about Kleinzee.

He has a list of 160 former residents looking for houses and a few factory owners want to relocate from Gauteng. A tourism industry is being nurtured, with hikes, hunting and 4x4 trails. A wind farm is in the wings and an ambitious project to cultivate abalone is under way. There are plans to turn the deeper mining pits into dumps for hazardous waste. A proposal is in place to transform the old migrant-worker hostel into a 1 000-bed prison.

Conservationists would like to see environmental rehabilitation added to the list of sustainable work opportunities. Since 2007 De Beers has fully restored only 500 hectares of damaged strandveld using NMR contractors and their 15 local men. That contract runs to April 2012. With somewhere between 5 000 and 17 000 hectares of land still to be fixed, a committed rehabilitation effort could employ hundreds of people. It remains to be seen whether Trans Hex will pick up the ball, as it is obliged to by law.

It is easy to take in the facts about Kleinzee—the environment laid waste, resources exhausted and the evidence of past excess and unsustainability—and from them fashion an allegory for man’s shortsightedness and greed. But there are also signs of human ingenuity and resilience.

In a mined-out area near the beach, Quiryn Snethlage, a former diamond diver, is quietly farming oysters, turning empty pits into ponds and using old mine pumps to circulate the sea water. A third of the oysters that reach the restaurants of Cape Town spent their infancy at this modest enterprise in Kleinzee.

“Namaqualand is perfect for mariculture,” Snethlage says, “sun to grow algae and strong winds to oxygenate the ponds.”

He looks around at the denuded landscape. “Although, for some reason,” he says, “the authorities wanted me to do an environmental impact assessment first.”

As for proclamation and the real-estate boom, Snethlage is pragmatic. “There’s always been a lot of talk in this place,” he says. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”


Kleinzee - from Census 2011

Population - 728 (80.01 per km²)

Households - 301 (33.08 per km²)

Coloured 445 61.13%

Black African 132 18.13%

White 130 17.86%

Other 13 1.79%

Indian or Asian 8 1.10%

Physical description 

Coordinates: 29°40′40″S 17°04′12″E

Area - 9.10 km²

Kleinzee is 56km from the nearest large town, Springbok, via a dirt road and the Spektakel pass, and about 60km from Koingnass to the south via a a high quality tar road. Koingnass is about 20km north of Hondeklipbaai to the south, which is a further 70km from Garies, to the South east. Thus Kleinzee is remote and accessible only by at least 60 km of dirt road.

The town was constructed to house mine workers by De Beers. It consists of about 500 residents staying in 360 well-made houses situated on tarred streets in a regular grid layout. It has most amenities such as schools, shops, restaurants, clinic,  clubs, library and police station in various states of repair. 

Water is supplied by a well-maintained 10cm diameter pipeline running approx 200km to the Orange river. Electricity is supplied from the Namibian grid and is not subject to the load-shedding plaguing the South African supply. There is a tarred airstrip capable of landing a Boeing 737 jet about 2km to the east of the town.

According to a local estate agent there are about 10 properties in the market ranging from about R500,000 to R1.2 million.

It is situated in the Namakhoi municipality, but the services in the town are maintained by a skeleton staff of 5 De Beers employees, who charge residents R400 per month for water, lights and other services. 

There are oyster and abalone farms along the coast.


Illegal mining


Veronica Van Dyk


12 September 2018 4:13 a.m.

Thank you for your letter.

The DA is attending from our side to this, indeed, very serious matter. We

have written to the Minister of Police , as well as the Minister of Mining

to intervene.

We will continue to do what we can to assist the community of Kleinzee and

residents and we do not support the illegal mining that is happening. See

media statement of today.

*DA amplifies call for police reinforcements in Kleinzee to Minister of

Police *

12 September 2018

Release: immediate

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape has amplified our call for

police reinforcements to be urgently sent to Kleinzee in Namaqualand, to

National Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.

This comes amidst a concerning boom in illegal diamond mining in the area,

that is seeing hundreds of miners moving in and setting up base in the

quiet town on the skeleton coast.

Busloads of people from the Western Cape have been ferried in to the area

to come and sift for diamonds. Miners who work in the Kathu mines, are also

being brought in on their off days, to work in shifts. In fact, in the

course of this week alone, at least 500 vehicles and 1000 people,

participating in illegal diamond mining activity, could be counted at a


Miners are carrying bags of gravel away with them, setting up sifting

points on the towns beaches and even in its salt pans. They are also

sleeping along the beach. There are no ablution facilities and illegal

miners have been entering the properties of residents, when they are not at

home. In the past week, there have also been break-ins at the local school

and the gun club.

It’s a free for all and residents are feeling unsafe.

The picture has changed significantly from one of desperate locals, placing

their lives at risk in unsafe tunnels to put bread on the table, to a

massive showdown of orchestrated crime syndicates, who are now taking

advantage of the under-policed diamond rich area.

This comes just more than two weeks, after two illegal diamond miners died

after the tunnel from which they were collecting gravel to sieve, fell in

on them.

The illegal mining poses a danger to the lives of miners and residents, it

is also a risk to the environment, as no one is accountable for

Minister To Meet De Beers Amid Kleinzee Artisanal Miners Evictions

31 January 2019   Thabo Mothibi Northern Cape News Network

Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant says he is to meet mining giant De Beers regarding its eviction of artisanal miners at Northern Cape’s coastal town of Kleinzee in Namaqualand. Scores of artisanal miners were forcibly removed from the diamond mining area and have been forced to sleep in the open after their shacks were demolished amid heavy police presence.

This week’s evictions fly in the face of Oliphant’s undertaking to get his department to assist the artisanal miners in organising themselves in being empowered with permits and having their safety issues addressed. Representatives of owners of the disused land, De Beers and Alexkor, were also present at the time of Oliphant’s visit of late last year.

“Meeting with De Beers next week at the Mining Indaba to amongst others deal with that matter. Will thereafter give you a response,” stated Oliphant in a text response to NCNN.LIVE’s enquiry.

Oliphant played a critical role in the historic land allocations and in legalising the operations of Kimberley’s artisanal miners last year.

Speaking from Kleinzee, Lucky Seekoei of the Northern Cape Artisanal Small Scale Miners (NCASSM) condemned De Beers for having carried out the evictions. “Of the 1800 affected by the evictions are over 500 from far flung Kimberley and Eastern Cape. They do not have the money to return home. It is disturbing to see people sleeping in the open not having alternative shelter.

“This is all surprising because from the deputy minister Oliphant’s visit, it was agreed that our people will continue to mine the bedrock.”

De Beers spokesperson Jackie Mapiloko was not immediately available for comment. De Beers obtained an interdict in the Northern Cape High Court last week.

Despite De Beers having ceased its operations in 2012, some of the multitudes of artisanal miners have reportedly struck lucky with good gems finds. On the other hand, the Kleinzee’s fortune seekers have not been deterred by the 12 lives claimed in incidents of 2018 and 2012. In August last year two men died after a tunnel which they were mining caved in on them and it what became known as the Bontekoe Mine tragedy – 10 people also died under similar circumstances in a makeshift mineshaft on May 22 of 2012.

Other challenges


Next steps


This report is a first draft discussion document. There are some major logistical, financial and legal obstacles to this exercise. Nevertheless, perhaps they can be overcome.