The article stated that the fishermen were having successful catches and were happy, but it was not certain as to how long they would be allowed to be there. Seemingly, that axe has now fallen.
On Sunday (3 February) there were a host of fishermen spread along the beach to the south, with not a soul on the pier. They had been evacuated as trespassing on private property.
I spoke to a couple of the men. They are angry, humiliated and frustrated. One in particular, is an elderly man, was born and grew up in this town. He has been fishing along these shores ‘all his life’. It has been the main food source for his family.
“Who are these South Africans,” he asks, “who are allowed to take over our beaches, without our permission or consideration? The beaches and the sea belong to us as Namibians but we are being pushed off our own land.”
To add insult to injury, he says, they now have no access to their fishing spots along the coast north of the development. The developers have encroached along an entire section of seafront and blocked all access to the northern beaches.
Likewise, new boards have appeared on the lawns of the waterfront townhouse complex, adjacent to the development, prohibiting public access, through their property, to the sea front. It is reserved for “Residents Only”.
When the complex was initially completed, several years ago, the body corporate erected a “Private Beach. Residents only” signboard which was duly removed by the municipality as an irregularity. No beaches may be privately owned, they stated. Beachfronts are public property.
These hardy fishermen, eking an existence from the sea, use the rock pools along their low-tide trails, for mussels and the odd chunk of red bait, as their source of bait, but are now forced to detour inland, via the residential areas, for access to any of the northern fishing spots. Very few of them own a vehicle, some a rusted bicycle, the rest are pedestrians carrying their tackle.
Being a dog owner, and a resident, I have been walking these beaches for many years, and am appalled by these gross injustices.
The Waterfront Development Group remains shrouded in mystery. Since the bulldozers moved in a year ago and the site works began, there have been frequent requests from local residents for some clarity and transparency. These have been totally ignored by the developers and our municipality.
Do ratepayers and citizens of this town have no rights to know what is happening on their own doorstep? Can we thus be blamed for being suspicious that “something fishy” is on the go? And angry that our beautiful country is being exploited by outsiders with no other agenda than for personal financial gain?
Shame on them and our leaders who are withholding their power to prevent and halt the exploitation, thereby not supporting the needs of their own people.