Routes & Trails

Freedom challenge 2013 route access issues

johannrissik's Photo johannrissik 27 Jun 2013

Drama in Gamkaskloof today....
David and I were unlawfully arrested by the son of one of the landowners for attempting to make use of a public route.
We were detained by this young fellow for over 4 hours.
We were released at approximately 21h45, David rode on up Die Leer, I drove back to PA to report on the situation to Race Office (no comms in the valley).
Suffice to say that these landowners have erected an electrified fence and locked gate across a public route, they also chose to festoon the base of Die Leer with razor wire.
DWK fencing pliers were useful.

I met Martin and Jeannie down in the kloof at 22h15.


(If Johann does not have his tongue firmly in his cheek, the story here is as follows:)

This has been brewing for some time - and could go the route of an urgent interdict in court - the FC does have considerable legal opinion on this the public right of way of the access route - but it should be sorted out for once and for all

As I understand it, the properties were bought and owned some years ago by a small group of professionals from the city, they have attempted to establish a small restricted access private nature reserve at the end of the kloof, historically this was the only entrance to the kloof and it involved a precipitous climb in or out via an established pathway - hence it became legally regarded as a public right of access via use even though it traversed private land.

Apparently upon purchasing the properties the current owners, referred to above, were made aware of this legal fact and they proceeded to purchase the properties, the argument then is they purchased the properties subject to the public's reasonable right to traverse the properties.

The current owners have however tried as best as possible to threateningly discourage people using the route and have at times threatened to arrest "trespassers", which seems to have happened last night.

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of mtbs trespassing and messing it up for other users - this is different. There is currently a trend in the Karoo and the Little Karoo by certain landowners to fence off and lock gates on public publicly proclaimed roads, some are trying legitimately to have these roads deproclaimed, but that is subject to a public participation process, not just a chain and a lock approach. The landowners cite legitimate security concerns in the main for this approach, however it is often the case that they wish to establish a private nature reserve and charge for access - knowing full well that the public has an established right of access to traverse through that area.

Lets hope the issue in the Hel/ Gamkaskloof is sorted out today or soon as ordinary people have been legitimately been using that route for decades.

Pic is looking back into the kloof from the top entrance to the leer and the public right of access pathway.


(If Johann does not have his tongue firmly in his cheek, the story here is as follows:)........................


Absolutely not tongue in cheek.

You have described the situation regarding the access issue very well, thanks tubed.

mazambaan's Photo mazambaan 27 Jun 2013

Re Die Leer - Jeez what is it with some people! Although I'm a farmer I sometimes want Swedish type land access policies. And I thought the sugar farmers were bad!

tubed's Photo tubed 27 Jun 2013

(If Johann does not have his tongue firmly in his cheek, the story here is as follows:)........................


Absolutely not tongue in cheek.

You have described the situation regarding the access issue very well, thanks tubed.


Alright then you have a story to tell at some stage when things settle down.

(I still have quite a bit of lawyer left in me, as does David)

juan pelota's Photo juan pelota 27 Jun 2013

(If Johann does not have his tongue firmly in his cheek, the story here is as follows:)........................


Absolutely not tongue in cheek.

You have described the situation regarding the access issue very well, thanks tubed.


I'm glad I politely turned down the offer of a trip into Die Hel yesterday!
As you've said this has been brewing for a while, and if anything this will resolve it into black and white.

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

(If Johann does not have his tongue firmly in his cheek, the story here is as follows:)

This has been brewing for some time - and could go the route of an urgent interdict in court - the FC does have considerable legal opinion on this the public right of way of the access route - but it should be sorted out for once and for all

As I understand it, the properties were bought and owned some years ago by a small group of professionals from the city, they have attempted to establish a small restricted access private nature reserve at the end of the kloof, historically this was the only entrance to the kloof and it involved a precipitous climb in or out via an established pathway - hence it became legally regarded as a public right of access via use even though it traversed private land.

Apparently upon purchasing the properties the current owners, referred to above, were made aware of this legal fact and they proceeded to purchase the properties, the argument then is they purchased the properties subject to the public's reasonable right to traverse the properties.

The current owners have however tried as best as possible to threateningly discourage people using the route and have at times threatened to arrest "trespassers", which seems to have happened last night.

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of mtbs trespassing and messing it up for other users - this is different. There is currently a trend in the Karoo and the Little Karoo by certain landowners to fence off and lock gates on public publicly proclaimed roads, some are trying legitimately to have these roads deproclaimed, but that is subject to a public participation process, not just a chain and a lock approach. The landowners cite legitimate security concerns in the main for this approach, however it is often the case that they wish to establish a private nature reserve and charge for access - knowing full well that the public has an established right of access to traverse through that area.

Lets hope the issue in the Hel/ Gamkaskloof is sorted out today or soon as ordinary people have been legitimately been using that route for decades.

Pic is looking back into the kloof from the top entrance to the leer and the public right of access pathway.

Just so that everyone knows at least some of the other side of the story, because the facts are being somewhat distorted here...
There is no dispute about whether the ladder is a proclaimed trail. However the road from the Gamka River to the Ladder is most certainly NOT a public road (as indicated on land tites) and is privately maintained at personal cost and effort. Any access to the property without the necessary permission is trespassing and therefore illegal not to mention just plain disrepectful to private property and the right to privacy. It's very simple: just say please like you would when entering anyone else's property. End of story...

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

Just so that everyone knows at least some of the other side of the story, because the facts are being somewhat distorted here...
There is no dispute about whether the ladder is a proclaimed trail. However the road from the Gamka River to the Ladder is most certainly NOT a public road (as indicated on land tites) and is privately maintained at personal cost and effort. Any access to the property without the necessary permission is trespassing and therefore illegal not to mention just plain disrepectful to private property and the right to privacy. It's very simple: just say please like you would when entering anyone else's property. End of story...

so, were the land owners not informed by the race orginisers that cyclists needed to cross their land to get to the ladder? if not, then the race orginisers need to answer to this.

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

Just so that everyone knows at least some of the other side of the story, because the facts are being somewhat distorted here...
There is no dispute about whether the ladder is a proclaimed trail. However the road from the Gamka River to the Ladder is most certainly NOT a public road (as indicated on land tites) and is privately maintained at personal cost and effort. Any access to the property without the necessary permission is trespassing and therefore illegal not to mention just plain disrepectful to private property and the right to privacy. It's very simple: just say please like you would when entering anyone else's property. End of story...


Hi

Given that I expected that the landowner would be following the thread and seemed alert to the presence of the race, you will see that I chose my words very carefully.

I fully respect that there is always another side to the story and this matter should be clarified for once and for all.

So too the custom which you are refer to of respect, even though one may have right of way, the 'right way' is to do it with respect, so always approach the landowner and inform them of your intention and then proceed.

What I cannot countenance is the threatening signage, the illegal locking of gates and the threats to personal harm if there is a legitimate right of way.

So I do not expect that this is the end of the story, but I respect your right to put forward your position.

Thanks for your contribution.

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

Hi

Given that I expected that the landowner would be following the thread and seemed alert to the presence of the race, you will see that I chose my words very carefully.

I fully respect that there is always another side to the story and this matter should be clarified for once and for all.

So too the custom which you are refer to of respect, even though one may have right of way, the 'right way' is to do it with respect, so always approach the landowner and inform them of your intention and then proceed.

What I cannot countenance is the threatening signage, the illegal locking of gates and the threats to personal harm if there is a legitimate right of way.

So I do not expect that this is the end of the story, but I respect your right to put forward your position.

Thanks for your contribution.

There were no threats of personal harm and the fence/gate is not only there to keep people out, but for other reasons too. Also, informing politely of intent to tresspass is not the same as asking for permission.

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

Hi

Given that I expected that the landowner would be following the thread and seemed alert to the presence of the race, you will see that I chose my words very carefully.

I fully respect that there is always another side to the story and this matter should be clarified for once and for all.

So too the custom which you are refer to of respect, even though one may have right of way, the 'right way' is to do it with respect, so always approach the landowner and inform them of your intention and then proceed.

What I cannot countenance is the threatening signage, the illegal locking of gates and the threats to personal harm if there is a legitimate right of way.

So I do not expect that this is the end of the story, but I respect your right to put forward your position.

Thanks for your contribution.

so how do you inform the landowner of your intention to cross his land. surely you have to get onto his land to speak to him, and then how do you find him? not being argumentative here, just really interested in the logistics. this ride is definitely in my future plans - 2015 probably.

ps. thanks for all the updates - love reading them.

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 27 Jun 2013

Just so that everyone knows at least some of the other side of the story ....

End of story...


So is there or isn't there another side to this story? Or where you just pointing out that you had ended your story. Sorry, just being an asshat ;)

Trackz's Photo Trackz 27 Jun 2013

Was the issue settled amicably last night? There is a very deep passion for this amazing event with those who live, eat, dream and when the stars align get to experience it. My guess is those who own and those who traverse this land probably love and treasure it equally. Really hope the 4 hour indaba last night was concluded with coffee and "nog enetjie".

deanbean's Photo deanbean 27 Jun 2013

Ahh the old story about customary access, servitudes and rights of way. I've seen this in many places, you have a customary access, which is not strictly legal on a property, then "city yuppies" (general term for lack of a better one), buy the property, and the pawpaw hits the fan, because "this is the way we've always done things" and "not on my property you won't" clash. Such a small thing gets out of hand, anfd the lawyers are the only ones to profit, and communities are polarized.
TALK TO ONE ANOTHER.
The Freedom Challenge in a national treasure, and deserves better treatment.

Ketoorskop's Photo Ketoorskop 27 Jun 2013

Was the issue settled amicably last night? There is a very deep passion for this amazing event with those who live, eat, dream and when the stars align get to experience it. My guess is those who own and those who traverse this land probably love and treasure it equally. Really hope the 4 hour indaba last night was concluded with coffee and "nog enetjie".

The place is indeed a treasure to us and everyone who visits it and we spend a lot of time and money keeping it that way. Just looking for acknowledgement of our right privacy.

Ketoorskop's Photo Ketoorskop 27 Jun 2013

Ahh the old story about customary access, servitudes and rights of way. I've seen this in many places, you have a customary access, which is not strictly legal on a property, then "city yuppies" (general term for lack of a better one), buy the property, and the pawpaw hits the fan, because "this is the way we've always done things" and "not on my property you won't" clash. Such a small thing gets out of hand, anfd the lawyers are the only ones to profit, and communities are polarized.
TALK TO ONE ANOTHER.
The Freedom Challenge in a national treasure, and deserves better treatment.

Not so much just a bunch of city yuppies. We have been on the farm for nearly 30 years now and spend a lot of time and money making the place what it is.
We have been talking and the organisers know who and where to find. The issue is the same as a bunch of people coming into your backyard without permission and expecting not to get chased away.
PS. my comments are based mostly on personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of everyone involved.

tubed's Photo tubed 27 Jun 2013

It is clear that respect of private land and traversing rights is paramount, unfortunately the case of access to the Leer is disputed and however resolved, it is best done sooner rather than later and the less inflamed the better.

The suggestion of talking to one another is good, this from the FC website:

The FREEDOM TRAIL is open to members of the public throughout the year. However, there are sections where it goes through privately owned land as well as proclaimed protected areas. TRAVERSING PERMITS need to be obtained beforehand and the land managers will be notified of the dates that you will be riding.

Hopefully that's my final bit and I can focus on the human achievement and the splendour of the route
Edited by tubed, 27 June 2013 - 12:45 .

deanbean's Photo deanbean 27 Jun 2013

Not so much just a bunch of city yuppies. We have been on the farm for nearly 30 years now and spend a lot of time and money making the place what it is.
We have been talking and the organisers know who and where to find. The issue is the same as a bunch of people coming into your backyard without permission and expecting not to get chased away.
PS. my comments are based mostly on personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of everyone involved.

As a farmer I sympathize with some of what you have said.

Forgive me if I still consider you Johnnie come lately's, my family have been farming in our area for over 150 years, so 30 years ago was just the other day ;) :whistling:
I just hope it gets sorted out soon.