SAVE VETCH’S ASSOCIATION BATTLE CRY 2011


If Durban Point Development Company (DPDC) gets their way and construct a small craft harbour, Durban will soon lose one of its most popular beaches... Vetch’s Beach. This unique beach that offers such a wide variety of water sport activities will be buried under a pile of concrete and steel robbing the man in the street of this truly family environment, turning it into a playground reserved for the super rich.  As the municipality is a 50% shareholder, it means that not only do the people of Durban lose their beach, but pay to lose it too! 

 

THEY WANT TO TURN THIS

 

 

INTO THAT

 

 

AND MAKE YOU PAY FOR IT TOO!

WHO ARE WE?


Vetch’s Pier and beach have been extremely popular hotspots for all novice divers in the city and are also used by ski boaters, sailors, paddlers, fishermen, learner surfers, windsurfers and many other beach lovers. No doubt most of these activities will cease to exist, and in a best case scenario, seriously diminished, should the small craft harbour be built. A dedicated and passionate group of people have formed a properly constituted “public body” known as Save Vetch’s Association (SVA) and have taken a conscientious  decision of challenging the legality of  the authorization of the small craft harbour. This action has been extremely costly and we therefore appeal to all fair minded ratepayers that utilize this stretch of beach to support our efforts to retain our natural environment for our children and future generations.

WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO ACHIEVE?

We want to preserve the beach and reef in their current and original state for all the people of South Africa.

We are not opposed to any landward development on the Point, but opposed to the creation of a small craft harbour, which would not only destroy the beach, but most of the marine life on the reef as well.

We want to ensure safe and affordable access to the ocean for all boating enthusiasts of the city and not just to an elite few. This is a basic constitutional right.

 

CURRENT ACTIVITIES ENJOYED AROUND VETCH’S BEACH



Sailing, sunbathing, relaxing



Fun on the reef and on the water




Paddle-ski and angling



Life Saver training




Ski boating



Enjoying the sunset



Learner surfing



Fishing

 

WHERE ARE WE AT THE MOMENT?

 

In February 2010, the SVA, at great expense, filed a formal application in the High Court, to have the Record of Decision set aside. To date, DPDC have not filed their answering affidavit. In the process, it has been established that the small craft harbour was initially rejected by the Dept. of Environmental Affairs, but within 3 months, and after political interference, the decision was reversed, by the acting head, Siddiq Adam who came from an accounting background having no previous knowledge of any of the environmental and social issues. Ownership of the beach and seabed, which was one of many other prerequisites for the authorization, has still not been obtained by the developers. After 8 years into the process, the Ethekwini Municipality is only now attempting to lease the seabed from the Dept. of Transport for 198 years for a paltry sum of R1000 per annum, with the intention of subleasing it to DPDC enabling them to construct their small craft harbour! Our legal opinion is that the land in question is public land and can only be excluded by Parliament. To date, no such application has even been lodged by Ethekwini. After confirming this opinion with the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the SVA has threatened the city and the Dept. of Transport with an interdict, should they persist with the lease.

After establishing that DPDC’s seaward boundary, being the high-water mark, was unlawfully demarcated, a further case was opened by SVA in December 2010, disputing the legality of the high-water mark. DPDC in the meantime, are anxious to begin construction of a parking basement the size of “three rugby fields” set to be built “on the high-water mark”. To do that, they need to erect a continuous dyke 25 metres seaward of the high-water mark, running from the toe of the North Pier to the toe of Vetch’s Pier. This would no doubt prevent any craft from launching for a period of “less than 3 years”. After raising this point with DPDC, they changed their plans to allow the dyke to be built in piecemeal fashion. To date their building plans, which have not been made public, have not been approved by the relevant authorities and all legal disputes will have to be resolved before any construction can commence.

In June 2010 DPDC presented new plans to SVA for consideration, which do not include a small craft harbour, but insisted that negotiations remain secretive. This condition was not accepted by SVA, who were and remain adamant that all negotiations be done in an open and transparent manner, if we were to believe that DPDC were acting in good faith. SVA’s refusal to enter into secret talks was not acceptable to DPDC and the negotiations came to an abrupt end. Rumours that the small craft harbour has been suspended are again doing their rounds, although no such official statement has been released by DPDC.

In a nutshell, DPDC obtained an authorization to go ahead with their small craft harbour in February 2009, but through the efforts of the Save Vetch’s Association, 30 months later, the developers have not managed to lay a single brick.  The situation however, remains tense as we wait for the law to take its course. Unfortunately, justice does not come cheap in South Africa and although our legal team of 4 advocates and an environmental attorney have been extremely generous, raising funds will remain crucial if we are to achieve our goal. We are convinced that sanity will eventually prevail, but need the support of all people who do not want to see this unique piece of paradise turn into another shopping mall.

If you agree with our sentiments please do not sit on the sidelines but get involved and be a part of the effort to stop the destruction of yet another important part of Durban. Yes, your contribution, no matter how small, can and will make a difference. The Save Vetch’s Association is the last means left to save this beach. The choices are simple.  Join the fight and support us, or kiss your beach goodbye.

Finally, we would like to thank all our supporters who have contributed so generously in the past enabling us to remain on course on this long, costly and uphill battle. We in turn, pledge to remain committed to our cause and shall endeavour to do whatever is necessary to achieve our goal.

Contributions can be made to: Save Vetch’s Association:

Standard Bank Acc. Number Acc No: 25 172 8307

Branch: Gale Place

Branch Code: 042526

For more info please log onto www.savevetchs.co.za where you can also register as a supporter, or on Face book Save Vetch’s Beach.

 

PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON