Baster community leaderless and divided

Rival traditional authorities at Rehoboth

15 December 2020 | Cultural



The Rehoboth Baster community is divided over who should lead them after the death of Kaptein Barney Buys on 27 November.

Buys had only recently taken up the position to replace the late John NcNab.

The Kapteinsraad says a new kaptein must be elected in accordance with the community's ancestral laws of 1872. The chairman of the Kapteinsraad, Pastor Leonard (Lennie) Pienaar, says they have asked councillor Cyril Pienaar to spearhead the election. The chairman urged all Rehoboth burghers to register and pay their dues. The membership fee is N$200 per year.

He said a community meeting will be held at the Hermanus van Wyk hall on 24 January, and all burghers, whether registered or not, are invited.


Some community members have in the meantime formed a rival Rehoboth Burgher Volksraad and chosen their own kaptein, Martin Dentlinger.

The Volksraad is led by Nico Bok, David Isaacs and Victor Mouton.

Bok says they were elected at a community meeting on 18 October and Dentlinger was the only candidate for the position of kaptein.

Dentlinger was said to be McNab's preferred successor but he parted ways with the Kapteinsraad after making a controversial statement on his Facebook page.

According to Bok, the Volksraad is a private, Christian association and not a tribal or ethnic organisation.

The Volksraad is bound by the ancestral laws of 1872 and chose Dentlinger as leader in accordance with them, he said.

Bok added that the council resolved to repeal all traditional laws and treaties adopted since 1872.

It is also adamant that the Baster community is a sovereign nation.

“The kaptein and Kapteinsraad no longer have the same authority as in the past.

Now there is a Volksraad with the authority to recall the kaptein and his council.

The power is back in the hands of the people,” Bok said.

Not recognised

Pastoor Pienaar says the Kapteinsraad has cut all ties with Dentlinger.

“He transgressed the ancestral laws, insulted the kaptein and the Kapteinsraad, and walked away. We had scheduled a meeting with him, with me as the mediator, but he left for South Africa. He resigned on Facebook,” Pienaar says.

“We're not going to get involved in infighting. We will just continue doing what needs to be done. Let them say what they will,” Pienaar said with reference to the new Volksraad.

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