EX­CLU­SIVE Only whites will be wel­comed in this Eden Project to be es­tab­lished in Wil­low­more

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - JAN CRONJE

A NEW whites- only set­tle­ment, mod­elled on the Afrikan­ers-only town of Ora­nia, is be­ing es­tab­lished on a farm near the small town of Wil­low­more, just over the Western Cape bor­der.

Die Eden Pro­jek, a non­profit com­pany reg­is­tered in July, aims to set­tle thou­sands of white fam­i­lies on a 2 300ha farm, where they can live “safely and in­de­pen­dently”, far from ur­ban ar­eas.

Project leader Jaqui Grad­well is also one of the ad­min­is­tra­tors of Die Eden Pro­jek’s pri­vate Face­book page, which ac­cepts only peo­ple with­out black friends and which has amassed more than 1 500 mem­bers.

His most re­cent ad­dress is listed as be­ing in the Strand.

Ten days ago he posted on so­cial me­dia that he and col­leagues had started lay­ing out 371 plots on the Ka­roo farm in the Saartjie Baart­man Dis­trict of the Eastern Cape for the “peo­ple of the covenant”.

He has also held a num­ber of farm view­ings for “pi­o­neers”.

The farm has a “great amount of wa­ter” but lit­tle in­fra­struc­ture, he wrote. While Grad­well is appealing for peo­ple to join the project, which he es­ti­mated can house between 20 000 and 40 000 peo­ple (20-plus times the more than 1 200 residents of Ora­nia), he has also been ask­ing for con­tri­bu­tions.

He wants dona­tions of every­thing from so­lar pan­els, roof tiles and bed­ding, to wa­ter tanks, first aid kits and chick­ens.

The 55-year-old, who sports a long Voortrekker-style beard, said yes­ter­day that he was field­ing 30 to 40 calls a day from in­ter­ested “pi­o­neers” want­ing to set­tle on the land.

Ap­proached for comment, he told Week­end Ar­gus yes­ter­day that he had no fur­ther com- ment about any as­pects of the de­vel­op­ment. Asked whether he wanted to give “his side of the story”, he replied: “And who is giv­ing the other side?”.

Grad­well, who on so­cial me­dia refers to the farm as “ver­ily, the gar­den of Eden”, also did not re­ply to 11 ques­tions sent to him ear­lier in the week.

He said he would com­mu­ni­cate with the me­dia when he saw fit.

Frans Cronje, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SA In­sti­tute for Race Re­la­tions, said whites- only com­mu­ni­ties such as Ora­nia and Eden had “no ef­fect” on wider race re­la­tions.

“Ex­cit­ing as it all sounds, I just don’t think there is much of a story here. Cer­tainly any sug­ges­tion that the whites are all trekking to a volk­staat has zero merit,” he said.

Cronje added that it was un­com­mon for white South Africans to go to the lengths of phys­i­cally sep­a­rat­ing them­selves from other South Africans. “Polling re­sults show, for ex­am­ple, that eight out of 10 whites would be happy for their kids to be taught by some­one of another race,” he said.

Asked whether Eden fell foul of any laws, Cronje said this was the same prob­lem that or­gan­i­sa­tions such as black busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions were strug­gling with.

“Deny­ing ac­cess to any in­sti­tu­tion on the ba­sis of race falls foul of the con­sti­tu­tion. But the IRR thinks if peo­ple want to do their own thing and no one else is be­ing harmed, then let them get on with it.”

In a so­cial me­dia post ear­lier this year, Grad­well said he had left South Africa after the coun­try’s 1992 ref­er­en­dum on end­ing apartheid to live in the US. On his re­turn in 2002, he wrote that he no longer recog­nised the coun­try.

Of­ten couch­ing his state­ments with ref­er­ence to the Bi­ble and the des­tiny of Afrikan­ers, Grad­well has been keep­ing the 1 500 mem­bers of the Face­book page up to date with hun­dreds of posts about the project’s de­vel­op­ment. “It is ev­ery­one’s duty to con­trib­ute to the safety and pro­tec­tion of our na­tion, our val­ues, our cul­ture, our re­li­gion and our free­dom,” he wrote (trans­lated from the orig­i­nal Afrikaans).

The project seems to be in its early stages, and Week­end Ar­gus could not con­firm how many peo­ple have bought the plots Grad­well has been ad­ver- tis­ing. But images posted on Face­book show Grad­well and col­leagues driv­ing around the farm in a white bakkie, mea­sur­ing out land.

Week­end Ar­gus has also seen an aerial plan that shows 60 plots nearly laid out, as well space for rows of houses, two schools, a rugby field and an ad­min­is­tra­tion block.

“I don’t re­ally un­der­stand the plan, but the lay­out looks very nice,” posted one user.

Many of the Face­book group’s mem­bers have asked Grad­well to send them in­for­ma­tion packs, or to re­serve plots. “I am look­ing for five ad­ja­cent plots,” posted one user this week. “Won’t you re­serve ’n mooi klom­pie (a nice bunch) for me?”

De­spite Grad­well oc­ca­sion­ally appealing to mem­bers to re­frain from racist lan­guage, his state­ments in­clude re­peated of­fen­sive posts: “I again ask humbly that mem­bers with friends who are volksvreemd (racially dif­fer­ent) – in­clud­ing blacks, coloureds, In­di­ans and Mus­lims, re­move these (from your Face­book page),” he wrote. “(These peo­ple) causes con­fi­den­tially risks to our project.”

He said they were busy check­ing out mem­bers, “and will have to re­move you”.

In a YouTube video up­loaded in Au­gust, which is not set to pri­vate, Grad­well speaks in the slow mea­sured tone of a Sun­day school preacher. He says Die Eden Pro­jek will pre­serve Afrikaner and Boer cul­ture.

“Project Eden is based on a prin­ci­ple that comes from the days of the old Bo­ers, (and) I am go­ing to call it the ‘new colo­nial­ism’. You take your fam­ily, your pos­ses­sions and you move to a new place.”

The Eastern Cape Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment had not replied to an in­quiry about whether they were aware of the project by the time of go­ing to press. jan.cronje@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: FACE­BOOK

Images of the Eastern Cape farm, where Die Eden Pro­jek wants to cre­ate a whites-only set­tle­ment.

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