Three sturdy former hiking trail rondavels torched by the Green Scorpions on the Wild Coast yesterday sent a message from government that illegal structures on the coast faced a similar fate.
Director of oceans and coast enforcement in the department of environment Dlulane Mzondeleli was on the front line holding a burning piece of paper to the neatly thatched huts owned by the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Dedeat) at Ngqabarha.
He said they were implementing the Integrated Coastal Management Act and while “yesterday [Sunday], they had destroyed a suspected den for perlemoen poachers, today [yesterday] sees the start of the demolition of illegal holiday homes at Lubanzi further along the Wild Coast”.
Mzondleli was assisted by assistant manager of compliance and enforcement at Dedeat Rob Stegmann and about 15 inspectors, some armed with rifles, with added support from SAPS.
Mzondeleli and Stegmann said the act gave the Green Scorpions administrative powers to demolish unsafe and unlawful coastal structures.
A multi-departmental, interprovincial and local government forum had decided to start on the Wild Coast where the problem was most prevalent and work their way down to the Cape and up to the Namibian border.
Stegmann said it had taken three years of following the process of issuing notices to reach the point of demolitions.
The officials said it was a trend that people with money from outside the Eastern Cape had used youths to persuade traditional leaders to allow them to build “shacks” on the coast which turned into holiday homes.
Some home owners, alleging they needed to clear bush for security purposes, had cleared a swathe through sensitive coastal bush to get a fine sea view.
Mzondeleli said there were “lots” of homes along the coast which did not comply.
“This is a serious warning to everyone,” he said.
Home owners from Port Elizabeth to Plettenberg Bay would be next, particularly where illegal extensions had been built.
The demolitions formed part of Operation Phakisa.
Stegmann said Wild Coast homeowners who did not have historic permission to occupy (PTO) notices, would have to fall in line with the new environmental management plan and Wild Coast Spatial Development Plan which designate nodes where homes could be built.
Today the team moves to Lubanzi where five cottages will be demolished and a backpackers is under pressure to move inland. — mikeldispatch [dot] co [dot] za