From the Save Vetchs Association: "Both unlawful and immoral"

The fact that the decision by Durban Metro to apply for the leasing of the seabed at Vetch’s, took close to 10 months to make, indicates just how controversial this decision was. But since its inception, controversy and the Point development have become synonymous. This issue was debated on the Executive council on numerous occasions, and was continually deferred. Only a week ago, eThekwini Municipality Chairman of Human Settlements Committee, Nigel Gumede stated “If we agree to the recommendations, this may be a non-starter if the court case is not resolved. We may find ourselves with resolutions that can’t be implemented.” He was of course referring to the Save Vetch’s Association (SVA) Review case in which we ask the Minister of Environmental Affairs to review the authorization of the small craft harbour. This case has to be heard before any construction can commence. SVA filed the founding affidavit in February 2010 and to date, three out of four respondents have still to submit their answering affidavits. So this process has still a long way to go.

Our legal team of 4 senior advocates have provided us with a highly researched opinion which makes it clear that the application to lease the seabed from the Dept. of Transport, is simply unlawful for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have on record a letter dated January 2009, from the office of the Dept. of Environmental Affairs, stating that the seabed never belonged to Transnet, but is actually public land. This was again confirmed in parliament by the present Minister of Environmental Affairs when she was questioned by DA Member of Parliament, Gareth Morgan.

Secondly, the eThekwini Municipality is relying on an isolated clause of an act that is 77 years old (Sea Shores Act of 1935) to attempt to circumvent the entire essence of that act as well as the current one, being the Integrated Coastal Management Act of 2008. The main purpose of both these acts is purely to protect the seashore for the people of South Africa. Reading both of these acts together, the provisions of the Seashore Act which entitle the Minister of Transport to lease the sea and seashore to the Municipality, must, in our view, be interpreted within the context of the provisions of the Integrated Coastal Management Act and the State in exercising any power or function must do so in a way which is consistent with the Integrated Coastal Management Act.  In other words, it would not be competent for the municipality to lease the seashore and seabed to a property developer if this was not in the interests of the whole community. Furthermore, if conflicting issues occur between the two acts, the 2008 act will supersede the outdated 1935 act. The full legal opinion and relevant letter and parliament questions are available below.

We believe it is our duty to take whatever action is required to force our authorities, which should be protecting our natural environment themselves, from destroying it. It was not too long ago, that our municipality along with high Government officials, one being our Deputy President, marched along the “Blue Line” supposedly to highlight the effects of sea level rise during COP17. The Blue Line is where developers were advised to retreat to and was established by our own Metro. This was obviously done to impress our foreign dignitaries and show us as “leaders in climate change policies”, but in reality, at Vetch’s, they are ignoring their own advice and are bent on going the opposite direction, well into the sea. Pictures of the Blue Line march are displayed on our Gallery section.

In a nutshell, our city fathers are attempting to use ratepayer’s money once again to take away a most valuable public asset and hand it over for a measly sum of R1000 per annum to a private developer, of which it is a 50% shareholder. This is not only unlawful but totally immoral!