The Wild Coast

by Peter Baxter | In the modern world, ‘wild’ as far as nature is concerned is a relative concept. It is enough, perhaps, that an area of natural beauty is not utterly trampled by urban development, or destroyed by irresponsible land use, for it to deserve the term ‘wild’. Certainly this is the case in the developing world, and most particularly along the earth’s tropical coastlines. The Wild Coast of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, although hardly wild, is by comparison to the KZN (Kwa-Zulu Natal) South Coast in a different world altogether.

Kamnandi Cottages - Hole in the Wall

Kamnandi Cottages are situated on the south corner of Kelly Beach, with wonderful views and a private and secure garden. Right on the beach and just a beautiful 20 minute stroll from "The Hole". There are 2 units available.

7 sleeper Self Catering Beach Cottage:
3 bedrooms (2 with 'twin' beds, 1 with a single & a double-bunk)
2 x WC (bathroom has toilet and shower)
Open plan kitchen / dining area / lounge
2 Large decks / entertainment areas 
Flat Screen Television & satellite dish. (Bring your own decoder),
Braai facilities
RATE: R1600 to R2000 (in season) per night *

Wildcoast Dolphin Research

Dear Wildcoast Community Members,

My name is Michelle Caputo and I am a PhD student at Rhodes University studying dolphins along the Wildcoast of the Eastern Cape.  I am writing to you as interested parties to give you a bit more information on what we are up to and to ask for your help and participation, where possible!

As some of you will know, there has been very little research to date on dolphins and whales in your area, with just a few aerial surveys from the 1980s.  Animals from Algoa Bay and from KZN have been studied to a larger extent, which leaves a large gap in our understanding of animal movement and residency along this coast.  My PhD project is focused on closing the gap and determining connectivity between EC and KZN animals, and the importance of the Wildcoast in their ecology.  Together with staff from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Authority, I'll be out in your area in February, June, and November for the next three years doing biopsy sampling and distribution studies on dolphin species.  Biopsy allows us to take a small skin and blubber sample from the animals, which we use to look at genetics and prey of dolphins.  We use photographic identification to match animals, as the dorsal fin is like a finger print. 

Given the lack of knowledge of the area, community members like you are incredibly important to our research as you are our “eyes on the ground”!  We are developing a sightings "App" for smart phones, so that tourists and community members can log their dolphin and whale sightings opportunistically (ie. if you notice animals in the area - not a dedicated watch).  For now we have a Facebook (Wildcoast Living Laboratory -, and a sightings form (attached here) that can be used if you see these animals.  Alternatively, I am always available at this email address if you would like to send me your sightings information directly.  By collating this info I can begin to develop a better understanding of when these animals are along the Wildcoast and in which areas - this in turn will help me focus my research. 


I have attached a dolphin and whale ID guide to help where needed, but additional info such as: size of group (small, medium, large) and distance to shore (inshore, nearshore, or offshore) are very useful in determining species. 

If you are interested in participating and/or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me!  I can also send a copy of our poster to interested parties for public display.  I will be sending out updates and keeping in touch with those who are interested.  Any ideas and suggestions are always appreciated - as well as questions, concerns, etc. 

Thank you for your participation,
Michelle Caputo


  • Posted on: 22 March 2014
  • By: JB

Click for full screen view


By ANDREW STONE and BONGANI FUZILE on March 22, 2014 (Daily Dispatch)

HIGHLY lucrative but illegal sand mining, on what was arguably one of the country’s most pristine coastlines, is behind the construction of government schools, RDP houses and private homes in the Eastern Cape.

A two-month long investigation has revealed local communities, building supply stores, local businessmen and even construction companies are involved in illegal sand mining operations along the Wild Coast.Click for full screen view

Dispatch reporters watched as this truck was loaded with sand from an illegal mine on the banks of the Mbashe River. Reporters followed it to a construction site of a government school Picture: ANDREW STONE

The police and the Port St Johns Municipality are aware of this but don’t seem to be doing much.

Today we can reveal three Eastern Cape construction giants – Mpumalanga Construction, Fitscape and AlfDav Construction – have all been using illegally mined sand to build schools and RDP houses in the Transkei.

Our month-long investigation also uncovered the following:

Local communities charge about R150 for an eight-ton load of sand which is then sold to the end user for between R1200 and R2600;
Employees from Centane and Ndabeni-based building supply companies admitted to undercover reporters they had sold illegally mined sand;
Reporters witnessed trucks belonging to Port Elizabeth-based construction company Fitscape collecting sand from the banks of a stream near Lusikisiki;
A truck carrying illegally mined sand from the banks of the Mbashe River was followed to a construction site near Elliotdale where East London-based Mpumalanga Construction is building a school for the government; and
A second newly built government school in Nombanjana village near Wavecrest was allegedly built using illegally mined sand.
Many of the mines are located in the 1km Coastal Conservation Area along the Wild Coast, a zone that was established to protect the sensitive coastal and estuarine environments of the region.

With no rehabilitation plans in place, the mines are destroying hundreds of acres of natural flora, causing massive soil erosion and degradation of roads by heavily laden trucks. If not checked, this could lead to the loss of thousands of tons of fertile soil being washed away, landslides and slumps becoming more common as hillsides are made unstable, and the silting of rivers.

The three construction companies have denied any involvement in the illegal operation.

Mpumalanga construction company is building a school, as part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi) in Elliotdale. AlfDav is building a similar school in Centane while Fitscape is building RDP houses in Ingquza Hill municipality. Asidi was set up in 2011 to eradicate mud schools, with 49 new schools having been built in the province since 2011. Another 49 schools were almost complete and another 120 were being planned for next year.

Mpumalanga Construction said it was not aware the sand had been illegally mined. Spokesman Ian Cooper said they were using a local supplier as per government tender requirements.

“There have been various suppliers [delivering sand] but I have not met them or seen any permits,” he said.

At Nombanjana village, AlfDav Construction is almost finished building a school with sand mined from inside the 1km protected coastal zone. Villagers said the firm had been mining sand since the start of the project two years ago.

But Azola Vela from AlfDav referred queries back to villagers. “It will be better if you can consult the committee of the Nombanjana Community where we bought the sand,” said Vela.

Further north near Lusikisiki, our team followed a large truck with a Fitscape Construction logo and contact details after it was seen loading sand from an illegal dig on the banks of a small stream. The company is building RDP houses for the Ingquza Hill Municipality in the area. Local councillor Nontobeko Daliwe said the company had promised to pay the community for the sand. “They promised to give us money and to build us a hall,” said Daliwe.

Andy Scoccia, speaking on behalf of Fitscape, denied the company mined sand illegally. “On what premise do you make this assumption? Could you give us names of persons spoken to and GPS co-ordinates for investigation,” he asked in an e-mail.

But when the Dispatch provided the details, Scoccia changed his tune.

“It could be an occasional load – as happens in most rural operations – was taken from a river bed but we buy our aggregates commercially as the norm,” he said.

In Port St Johns, the Dispatch witnessed illegal miners removing sand from a site in the town not far from the police station.

After flagging down a passing police vehicle, an officer said it was a “municipality problem, not ours”.

However this contradicts a letter written by PSJ station commander Colonel NX Mabula in 2012 to residents, in which he says police are committed to helping the municipality fight illegal sand mining. Port St Johns mayor Mnyamezeli Mangqo said the municipality was aware of the illegal sand mining and “is responding”.

A local businessman, ZNdabeni, was arrested for sand mining on municipal land on March 7. His truck was impounded and he appeared in court on March 10.

Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi said: “Community awareness sessions are being held in conjuction with the department of rural development and agrarian reform. Perpetrators are informed and educated when confronted.”

Permits had been granted to mine sand in Port St Johns and near the Mbashe River, but did not give the exact locations, Shezi said.

Balancing diverse needs in developing Wild Coast

  • Posted on: 15 November 2013
  • By: JB

By OWETHU PANTSHWA on November 14, 2013 in Metro, Opinion (Daily Dispatch)

HOW does one address the coastal development and how, in particular, does one transform the Wild Coast into a strategic economic centre, not only for the province but for the country?

These are among the issues that will come under the spotlight at the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s Wild Coast Development Programme sessions in East London today and tomorrow.

Unlocking development of the Wild Coast could be a critical step in redressing the historic frontiers of underdevelopment based on segregation and colonialisation that have characterised this area for centuries.

There is generally massive interest in mixed use and tourism development, both from a political point of view and for the sake of the development of rural communities. But coastal development is very slow. In reality there are no developments that can bring about economic change and sustainable employment of these very deprived communities.

Communities in these localities – the OR Tambo District Municipality in particular – have high levels of unemployment and live far below the poverty line.

This contributes to the underdevelopment of the Eastern Cape and broadly adds to the inequalities of the country.

According to the World Bank, South Africa is regarded as one of the most unequal societies in the world, and recently East London was identified as one of the most unequal cities in the country. The development of the Wild Coast could go a long way in making a remedial impact.

The Wild Coast is highly regarded in terms of its natural beauty and environmental heritage, and there is a significant amount of virgin land available.

Two things that will have an impact on the development of the Wild Coast are the protection of the environment and land issues. If these two elements are not addressed, the development of the Wild Coast will remain a dream and not become a reality.

The protection of the natural environment and preservation of ecological processes, natural systems and beauty is critical in an area known for bio diversity. This can be addressed through environmentally friendly initiatives that have a long term outlook.

The Transkei Decree No 9, volume 17 has a direct effect on what and how we can develop the coastal areas, as do many other environmental policies both international and local.

Land issues involve challenges dating back to historic land reform practices, especially in the former homelands.

In the context of the Wild Coast, the land is de facto owned and occupied by African people who are custodians of the land, not the owners in terms of the common law.

The constitution is more concerned with basic rights than de facto rights.

The challenge of ownership leads to an unwarranted predicament of underdevelopment. This is due to an inability to develop land because of legislative guidelines which limit what can be done on particular portions of land.

In the land development paradigm, investments are concluded using civil rights where land is indigenously managed and owned. Such rights limit investment possibilities.

Before the recognition of indigenous laws as part of the legal system in South Africa, the subdivision of tribal land for investment purposes was possible.

However, when permission is granted to occupy land as part of “ownership” or recognised land occupancy, such ownership is not guaranteed in legal terms. For example, no legal system supports the establishment of townships on communal land.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has on many occasions emphasised that no investor is willing to invest when matters of land tenure are not addressed.

There are multiple challenges in terms of dealing with land tenure. In some rural areas there are conflicts where the clarity of the rights and responsibilities are involved. Procedures must be adopted to deal with such challenges.

Current aspects such as the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, Act No 31 of 1996 have not yet yielded any positive outcomes and are not a solution to development projections.

In rural areas, the issue of securing land ownership is complicated, difficult to achieve and less secure than elsewhere. Constitutionally, insecure tenure of land must be secured in terms of Section 25, subsection 6 of the constitution.

This paradoxically leads to a complicated situation wherein the secured ownership can only be achieved through the registration of property boundaries.

This limitation has to be addressed before development of the Wild Coast can take off. Therefore, parliament has to come up with legislation that deals with security of tenure.

The Communal Land Rights Act, Act No 11 of 2004, was declared unconstitutional on the basis of land rights and the strong prominence on usufructuary rights.

This was to prepare for a freehold land tenure system to allow recognised land ownership by communities. The contractual obligations based on common law would only be considered in areas where land could be registered.

This was to protect the interests of the private sector as land can be repossessed and be sold to a willing buyer in the event that different parties are not fully satisfied or do not agree on some of the conditions of agreements.

Currently, the indigenous law system places more emphasis on community ownership than individual ownership, which is a strong characteristic of the ubuntu philosophy. However, this must lead to direct benefits of the abantu (people).

In order to address these complexities, traditional leaders in different structures must be mobilised. Traditional leaders are in support of the Wild Coast development. However an approach needs to be taken that will benefit all the parties involved.

Wild Coast development will address underdevelopment in rural areas by creating employment and addressing poverty. It will also address social issues associated with underdevelopment such as migration and urbanisation.

In the event of the status quo remaining, it would be advisable to provide infrastructure development as well as feasible business initiatives and incentives for potential investors.

Further, there is a need for capacity building of local SMMEs, youth and unemployed communities. A radical approach should be taken in order to deal with issues of interconnectedness in our backward economies.

It is in the interests of the state to see the developments taking off in these historic underprivileged areas and support some development trajectories. In the case of the former Transkei, there were always stringent requirements and in the post-apartheid South Africa this should not be the case.

Initiatives must also be driven by communities and clear community benefits must be outlined for affected areas.

The power should remain with the traditional leadership and development must not be seen as taking away their mandated powers. Such an approach will limit the possibility of conflict that is often the case in some developments.

There is often a challenge and a feeling that people in some communities are at times enemies of their own prosperity. This is evident in the objections received to the proposed coastal N2 where some communities objected to proposals that would benefit them.

Therefore, development must be understood to be about social change and evolution with the people owning the process.

Owethu Pantshwa is director of planning and development, for the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Wild Coast in the next episode of The Ultimate Braai Master 2 ...

  • Posted on: 6 November 2013
  • By: JB

In the next episode of The Ultimate Braai Master 2, which airs on Wednesday, 6 November at 20:30 on SABC3, the teams head up the Wild Coast as the game introduces survival dynamics. 

Teams swing into beach mode and become modern day foragers, as they have to live and cook off the coast for two days. After a long and tedious day trying to forage and fish for food in these wild waters, teams are challenged to make the perfect campsite meal for themselves and the Judges.

Three teams end up as the bottom feeders and have to battle it out in an elimination, where they’re required to cook an 80s themed seafood buffet for 100 guests. It’s a huge volume of food to prepare in only three hours, and one team’s Braai dreams go up in smoke as they are sent home.

This episode of The Ultimate Braai Master 2 airs on Wednesday, 6 November at 20:30 on SABC3.

Paddling for Smiles - Hole in the Wall

  • Posted on: 17 January 2013
  • By: JB
Richard Kohler at Hole in the Wall: Thursday, 17 January 2012. For some cool footage of the other side of "The Hole", check On 15th October 2012 Richard set off from the SA-Namibia border on his second attempt at an epic surf ski adventure to paddle the whole 2600-kilometre South African coastline, ending at the Mozambique border. The adventure is raising money for the Miles for Smiles foundation. Check for updates and donor information. Click on "LIVE surfski tracking" to follow Richard:
  • Username: sbd.voyager
  • Password: 1234
  • Hole in the Wall Horse Project

    • Posted on: 22 August 2012
    • By: JB
    Marlene runs a Free weekly clinic, every Tuesday, for all the local horses in Hole in the Wall. She currently has 248 patients. She offers basic treatments such as dipping, deworming, treatment of wounds, and replacement of old and harmful tack, such as bridles and saddles, with donated equipment. Due to the urgent need of some professional Veterinary care in this area, Marlene is going to shave her waist length hair in an attempt to raise R50 000 for the cause. She will shave her hair off at a public event in East London on 1 September 2012. Please support her and spread the word, as funds are desperately needed to keep this project running. Regular photos and updates are uploaded on the Facebook group "Hole in the Wall Horse Project". Please support this worthwhile cause. Email Marlene Els at, or phone 078-2507980.

    Xolobeni mining update

    • Posted on: 13 August 2012
    • By: JB

    Latest news:

    On Wednesday, 2012-08-08 the Amadiba Crisis Committee filed an Objection against the prospecting right application made by Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources SA:

    The objection was filed jointly by the ACC and Sun International, which operates the Wild Coast Sun resort adjacent to the proposed mining area.

    * TEM is ineligible for a new grant of prospecting rights because their application is redundant: they have already prospected the site, and are therefore merely attempting to hoard the rights. This transparent ploy creates more uncertainty and directly impedes development of the tourism potential in and through the area;

    * Prospecting and mining activities cannot take place in the Xolobeni region at all because it is within an already designated Marine Protected Area (MPA). The tiny Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE), where the mining is proposed, is the second most florastically abundant region in Southern Africa, and one of only 26 such species rich places on earth;

    * Mining the area will lead to unacceptable environmental and social harm. The objection clearly states the inevitable outcome of the limited short-term capital gain operations versus the long-term (infinite) sustainability of eco-tourism: Mining will irreversibly degrade the ecology, sense of place, and appeal of the area.

    * The community will be displaced. The unacceptable outcomes of strip-mining include, inter-alia:

    1. Forced eviction from their ancestral lands:
    2. Loss of access to farmland for both crops and livestock, leading to subsequent loss of income, means of subsistence, and way of life;
    3. Decreased viability of subsistence agriculture and fishing due to dust fallout;
    4. Risk to irrigation from declining ground water sources;
    5. Relocation/destruction of ancestral graves;
    6. Destruction of culturally important archaeological sites;
    7. Loss of current tourism and potential eco-tourism opportunities in the area, as Kwanyana camp, which is pivotal for accessing trails, will not be able to be used by tourists for lifetime of the mine; and
    8. Irreversible damage to residents' sense of place, which is closely associated with unspoiled character and traditional use of the land.

    9. Basically, irreversible degradation to the environment for a short term gain of $6 billion.

    <b>Please sign our petition at for the Wild Coast to be declared a "no-go" area for mining once and for all.</b>

    Bulungula Homestay/Village Based Accomodation

    Nqileni is home to a vibrant rural community where times have sometimes been tough; migrant labour has taken its toll on family structure and health service & education have been difficult to access. But in spite of these challenges, the typical scene at sunset is children singing beautiful harmonies as they walk up the hills together on their way home, Mama’s laughing together as they collect water from nearby springs while men and boys effortlessly herd their cattle home to their kraals. The Xhosa traditions are strongly adhered to and are respected by Traditionalists and the Religious alike. Email Reservations to: ? ? You can get more information on . For information about the Bulungula Incubator, log on to


    Wild Coast Fund Raising CalendarWild Coast Fund Raising Calendar Click here to order! HELP PUT A PERMANENT STOP TO: Mining of the Wild Coast dunes The 'Greenfields' section of the N2 Toll road through Pondoland HOW? Funds raised by your purchase of this calendar go to support residents of Pondoland's Wild Coast, in their ongoing battle to protect and conserve their living landscapes and prevent the shredding of their social fabric by the two massive development schemes.

    The Ama-Xhosa of the Transkei

    • Posted on: 10 November 2011
    • By: JB

    This is a must-have book for your coffee table...

    Click on the pic to order your copy: 

    The Ama-Xhosa of the Transkei - by Deryck Lang. Edited by Dianne Lang

    Gqira: Priest-divinerGqira: Priest-diviner

    A photo journal depicting and explaining the customs of the amaXhosa, the largest tribe in South Africa. Deryck spent his life among the amaXhosa in the Transkei, and was a respected member and Elder of the amaTshezi; the foremost clan of the Bomvana tribe. The photographs he took are a testament of his enduring love of the people, and their deep respect for him. Deryck &quot;Mdesaleni&quot; Lang: 1934 - 2009

    Deryck "Mdesaleni" Lang: 1934 - 2009 Few, if any, outsiders have been as privileged to photograph tribal customs and ceremonies, to share in their fortunes and their sorrows; and to live amongst them their entire life.

    Deryck captured an intimate glimpse into what could sadly be the end of a cultural era. Deryck was a true African in the deepest sense of the word, a man who epitomised the meaning of "Ubuntu" and "Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu".

    Lala Ngoxolo Mdesaleni


    To Baz Bus or Not To Baz Bus

    With thanks to Claudia Wu for this insightful article outlining the pleasures and pitfalls of traveling the magic bus. Read more of her great travel tips and stories: Where Wu At 11 AUG 2011 For those planning on traveling around South Africa, there is a very convenient backpacker-geared transportation service called Baz Bus. Basically, they provide transportation between backpackers/hostels in major destinations with door-to-door service. They also sell a type of ticket which allows you to hop on/hop off wherever you want for a fixed price. Personally, I decided not to go with Baz Bus because I wanted to get a local feel of South Africa by traveling as locals do. However, I would say 90% of the people I met used Baz Bus to get around. Here are some pros and cons that I found with Baz Bus (having to take it occasionally out of necessity):