We fish to feed our families, say banned fishermen

2011-07-30 00:00

BRAVING the cold weather was nothing new for fishermen, only this time it was for a different cause.

Incensed subsistence fishermen and women gathered outside Durban City Hall despite chilly weather and rain to hand over a memorandum to members of council and Transnet.

Carrying placards and singing old protest songs, the group expressed anger at the banning of fishing on piers and the proposed discontinuing of the train service to Durban Harbour from Chatsworth and Wentworth. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance chairperson Desmond D’sa led the protest.

“These people are not fishing for huge commercial gain — they are just trying to feed their families, but members of the SAPS, Metro, Port security and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife treat them like criminals by confiscating their catches and equipment and often throwing them into jail,” said D’sa.

He added that the piers were closed to fishing just before the World Cup and so too was the harbour — but boating and commercial fishing persists near these areas.

“They were asked to get fishing licences and they complied, now you don’t want them to fish in areas they had been fishing since 1860, when Indians first settled here. Where is the justice?” asked Dsa.

Wentworth fisherman Nathan Sewell said that since most of the fishermen are poor, they take the most affordable mode of transport, Now that this has been stopped it is almost impossible to eke out a living, he said. “These people opted not to steal for a living, they are doing what is most natural to them,” said Sewell.

Transnet’s National Ports Authority representative Ricky Bhikraj would not comment on the matter.

Eric Apelgren accepted the memorandum on behalf of the council and promised that the demands will be considered with urgency.

At the last protest fishermen were forced to leave their petition on the staircase as government and Transnet authorities were not present.

It was reported recently that a fisherman, Ram Sewsunker (48), was killed after he slipped off a hazardous storm water pipe, where the fishermen are now expected to fish as an alternative to the pier.

The rails on the drain appear to be mostly broken, which fishermen believe led to Sewsunker’s death.

“Ram was a good friend of mine and fished by my side for over 10 years — he was the sole breadwinner and took care of his entire household. I don’t know how they are surviving,” said an elderly Haroon Ali.

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