News24

Holidaymakers evicted from Sodwana Bay

2011-12-21 22:11

Johannesburg - Authorities at KwaZulu-Natal's popular resort, Sodwana Bay, have evicted eight holidaymakers involved in unruly protests against a new permit system regulating vehicle access on the beach.

Criminal charges were also being investigated against the tourists, said Terri Catsis, commercial director of the isiMangaliso Wetland National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site into which Sodwana Bay falls.

The tourists were from Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng. A further charge of assault was being explored against a holidaymaker who assaulted one of Catsis's staff.

"The same staff member was also assaulted in a similar incident in April. Two holidaymakers from Mpumalanga were convicted for it. They received heavy fines and one of them was given the option of a prison sentence," Catsis said.

The worker who was assaulted was not injured "but was terribly shattered to say the least".

On Tuesday another holidaymaker appeared in the Ubombo Magistrate's Court after being arrested that morning for stealing the permit book from the park office.

200 vehicles a day

Holidaymakers' tempers flared a number of times over the weekend and early this week. The introduction of a permit system, allowing access to only 200 vehicles a day in line with the law, saw them blockade the beach entrance in protest on Sunday and harass park staff early this week.

The permits had to be implemented when the current one-in, one-out system led to huge congestion at the beach entrance.

This annoyed holidaymakers confused by the inconsistency of the times and places where they could collect their permits, one resort owner from outside the park said.

Catsis said when people first applied for permits, there was once again huge congestion.

"We received feedback from people that it needed to be made easier, so we changed the system. Unfortunately the communication that went out did not get around the following morning and people went to the wrong places."

By Tuesday afternoon things were back to normal and people were receiving permits according to plan, with 100 reserved for tourists accommodated within the park, and 100 for day visitors, many of whom stayed at resorts outside the park.

"There has been a huge increase in development of accommodation outside the park, which has brought about added pressure [to the beaches]," she said.

Facilities in the park were fully booked through to January.

Commenting on the unruliness, Catsis said on Tuesday: "I understand people's frustrations, but nothing can warrant such lawless behaviour."

Comments
  • Van - 2011-12-22 00:18

    The best is to go to Mozambique. Let these locals starve.

      Gungets - 2011-12-22 17:04

      Off you go then, we will not miss you in the slightest. If you condone this here, try it in Mozambique and see how they put up with it.

  • Vivian - 2011-12-22 07:21

    I think this is great. These so called tourists come down here and rip the crap out of our beaches, they have no respect for nature. All they want to do is drink their double brandy and cokes and trash our beautiful beaches

  • Sharkshoot - 2011-12-22 09:22

    The Gautengalengers have to trade in their bakkies for Beemers now.

  • Dean - 2011-12-22 09:48

    Mozambique

  • Sakkie - 2011-12-22 11:49

    A 4X4 has got two tracks on to the beach and two of the beach. Scuba divers damage the reef and their boats spil oil and fuel on the beach and the water. Coral Divers tractors are driving up and down the beach and through the camp. The road is one dust cloud when they went pass your camp. Not to mention the oil and fuel they spill when taking it down to the beach for their boats. Who are the people that are getting drunk in the evenings and make a noise until late at night and sometimes untiul the early morning? THE DIVERS. So Vivian you must have heard what somebody else have said about brandy and coke and now you jumping on the same wagon. Lets close Sodwana and see what happens to the locals and give the developers the opportunity to build their hotels as in the Kruger because the local goverment need to fill their pockets with money.

      allison.steedman - 2011-12-22 13:25

      You should'nt generalise. Not all divers damage the reefs - in fact in 15 years of diving at Sodwana through Coral Divers I have never seen anyone causing any deliberate damage, although foreign divers are sometimes more careless than South Africans. The DM's from Coral Divers always remind divers not to touch the reefs, and will assist any diver who cannot get their bouyancy right causing them to bump into the reefs. I have also never experienced any excessively rowdy divers - most divers have a very early start and drinking before a dive is dangerous - yes, you get the exception to the rule, but my experience has been that fishermen are the noisy, inconsiderate bunch.

  • Gerrie - 2011-12-27 09:05

    I have been going to Sodwana since 1990. To me this was still the best holiday destination in SA. I have a relative and two friends there as we speak. Unfortumately I could'nt get a campsite this year. The communication I get from them makes me grateful that I didn't. Some solution (compromise)during holidays has to be reached or Sodwana will lose many holiday makers. Everyone knows what this will mean. I am a keen scuba diver and therefore would like to see my grand children enjoy Sodwana as well. Set aside a part of the northern beach big enough for the tourists and police it well to prevent driving above the highwater mark. The southern beach we know has many turtle nests and should be kept clear of vehicles.

  • Geraldv - 2011-12-27 09:29

    Most of the people riding on the beaches are not divers. The reason they have this problem is that "Kort Broek" banned all beach driving. Many people are responsible fishermen and would like to ride to where they can be private and catch fish. Open up more beaches and charge the users to ride on the beach. This would stop these problems!!

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