Topnaars – the way forward

Rudi bowe

The Topnaar Traditional Authority leaders recently called a community meeting to seek guidance and discuss the way forward to elect a new Chief, following the passing of Chief, Seth Kooitjie (pictured below).

The meeting was held at Utuseb, a month after Chief Kooitjie was buried at Soutrivier.
The Deputy Chief, Stoffel Anamab, sat with the bereaved family, a move that unsettled the traditional leaders and also described afterwards as the main reason the meeting referred to here ended without any workable outcome. A second meeting would be scheduled for a new date.
At the outset of the meeting, the Chairperson of the Topnaar Traditional Council, Councilor Lena Kasper, explained the meeting served to allow community members to discuss the future of the Topnaar Community in terms of a leader. She added the activities of the Topnaar Trust came to a standstill after the death of the Chief Kootjie. At the time of his death, the Chief was working on various projects.
When it was his turn to speak, Councilor Sebedeus Swartbooi caused a stir when he indicated proposals for a new leader must be based on the prin-ciples set out in the Traditional Authorities Act.
Swartbooi proposed the new Chief be elected according to guidelines contained in the relevant legislation.
Community members to the contrary argued Swartbooi’s proposal is not valid and a new leader must be elected guided by Topnaar Customary Law.
The proceedings were further strained at this point when Councillor Lena Kasper explained Topnaar Customary Law is not recognised.
Diane Kooitjie, the widow of the late Chief Kooitjie, was also of opinion the Topnaar community should choose their next chief and not Govern-ment.
The meeting concluded with a suggestion the Deputy Chief, Stoffel Ana-mab, become the Acting Chief until such time that the new Topnaar Chief is elected.
On the issue of the Topnaar Customary Law, Anamab requested the com-munity to provide copies of Topnaar Customary Law to Councilors, for scrutiny.

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