Fishermen advised to create forum

Fisherman’s Lane, also known as the “broken road” at Strandfontein Beach will undergo long overdue upgrades over the next three financial years, the City of Cape Town announced last week.

Fisherfolk frequenting the angling spot have been complaining about the state of the area for many years (“Damaged beach road angers residents”, Plainsman, September 7, 2016, “Residents petition to speed up road repair”, Plainsman, September 21, 2016, “Residents in a rage about road”, Plainsman, October 11, 2017, “City barricades broken road”, Plainsman, November 1, 2017, “It’s a long road for Fisherman’s Lane repairs”, Plainsman July 18, 2018).

Marian Nieuwoudt, the City’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said R25 million had been allocated for the upgrade of the coastal infrastructure at Fisherman’s Lane.

Ms Nieuwoudt said officials within the coastal management department had already started with the planning of the project and professional service providers will be appointed before the end of June.

“We’ve also planned improvements to the parking area and interventions to improve the traffic flow and to make it more convenient and safe for pedestrians,’ said Ms Nieuwoudt, who said in the City’s press release that she’ll “personally monitor the progress of this
project”.

Meanwhile fishers and community leaders met at Strandfontein Pavilion on Saturday April 13 to discuss the creation of a fishers forum to bridge the gap between safety structures and fishers.

Fisherfolk are concerned about their safety and the lack of police patrolling the coastline, saying there have been incidents of robbery and assault.

Sandy Schuter, chairperson of the Strandfontein Community Police Forum, said the fishers were also dissatisfied with the poor lighting and lack of clean toilet facilities.

The fishing community said law enforcement prioritised the checking of permits instead of making sure they are safe at the coastline. The fishers said they are aware of the by-laws and need for fishing permits, which they already
have.

“If only the same emphasis on permits were exercised on their safety because they have to apply and pay for permits, surely law enforcement can request more safety officers,” said Ms Schuter.

Bazil Murtz, 62, a fisherman from Strandfontein, said he wants to feel safe when he gets out of his car to fish. “Visibility of police is seen after hours. One will always see a fisherman at any time of the day,” said Mr Murtz.

Ramsey Alexander, 50, also from Strandfontein, who have been fishing for more than 20 years, said the mindset of the City should change. “The City does not care about what happens at this beach. I can’t fish here until I see a few fishermen in sight, then it’ll be safe for me. It needs to stop.”

Fisherwoman, Tracy “Trix” Zill fom Fairways, said law enforcement were checking permits instead of monitoring safety. “We need to park close by to where we are fishing in order to jump into our cars if it becomes unsafe. If law enforcement does not want you to fish at a certain spot, they will fine you.”

Ms Zill said she wants SAPS and law enforcement to be more visible. She said she doesn’t fish at Strandfontein anymore as it is unsafe for her as a woman.

Captain Stephen Knapp from Muizenberg SAPS said they patrol up and to Strandfontein area. Strandfontein SAPS and Muizenberg SAPS share the Strandfontein and False Bay coastline area, he said.

“The checking of permits is not in our mandate, which is a problem. It is in our ability to do this, but we concentrate on the more serious crimes. The coastline is vast. We are very dependent on the fishers to take responsibility for their safety. The fishers also need to alert SAPS of any crime in the area,” said Captain Knapp.

Wayne Dyason, principal inspector for City law enforcement, said their primary focus was to follow the by-laws and check permits.

Mr Dyason said it was not true that they prioritised the checking of permits. “If anyone is in danger we will not turn our backs on them,” he said.

Fishers should also be aware that the area may be dangerous after hours, he said.

Ms Schuter said the CPF has suggested the fishing community establish a fisherman’s forum whereby a representative can sit on their safety board meetings and have the platform to raise their safety concerns with the relevant stakeholders. “Joint workable solutions can come of that,” said Ms Schuter.

This cannot be the last time officials engage with fishers, said Ms Schuter. “I’m positive that we will achieve at least a few of the pointsraised. We intend supporting the initiative from the fishing community and will do our level best to draw resources,” she said.