'We are heartsore,' says dad of missing Hout Bay fisherman

The parents of Hangberg fisherman Deurick van Blerk still do not have closure over what happened to their son, who allegedly went overboard during a poaching swoop in Hout Bay last month.

"We are heartsore," said his father Edward, taking a few minutes from fixing up a place for his son's partner to live in.

"But we just have to carry on with life."

Van Blerk disappeared during an anti-poaching operation on August 12.

Some residents of his home suburb Hangberg were so enraged by allegations that he had been shot, and then fallen into the water, that a fiery uprising and clashes with police followed.

However, there has been no sign of the 25-year-old father of one since then.

ALSO READ: Cops killed Hout Bay fisherman, witnesses say

Some alleged that he was shot by officials during the operation and then went overboard. Unless he or his body is found, his father will have to wait until the court case of the two people arrested for alleged poaching during the incident to find out more about what happened.

Edward van Blerk said they were due back in court on September 20, and it was only through the eventual trial that he may know more about the last sighting of his son.

He said the police were keeping up regular contact with him, which he found comforting.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson Moses Dlamini said they were no closer to finding out what had happened and would only be able to confirm claims that Deurick was shot if he or his body was found.

The police said there were no new developments in the case.

Ministerial review

In the meantime, fishing boats that were diverted to Cape Town harbour during the unrest, have resumed using Hout Bay harbour, according to fisheries department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana.

He said the area was stabilising, and that officials were helping to show locals how to go about applying for fishing permits after being told that some people did not know how to do it.

In addition, locals should know very soon about the outcome of a ministerial review of appeals over the rights to fish for the coveted rock lobster.

This was aimed at flushing out people fronting for big companies, and allegedly pushing out generational small-scale offshore fishers.

"On our side, we are working on ensuring that fishing rights of the community and co-operatives are given," said Nkwanyana.

He said that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana had finished the due diligence on checking the backgrounds of the companies which had applied, and he was expected to make the announcement of his findings soon.

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