A well-known Cape Town marina was on high alert on Monday after being caught up in ongoing violent community protests related to fishing rights.
Hout Bay marina manager Alan Batley confirmed the marina office had been closed following the latest flare up on Sunday, when members of a nearby fishing community set fire to three buildings in Hout Bay harbour and clashed with police. The protests are related to the disappearance of a local fisherman, allegedly shot by marine law enforcers during an incident at sea on Saturday.
Batley said he would advise would-be visitors to Hout Bay marina to avoid the facility until the current volatile situation had subsided. “What this does for tourism and the local economy is anybody’s guess, but it can’t be good,” Batley said. “One would hope that law and order will prevail – that is my personal opinion,” he said. “There is nothing we as a marina can do.”
It is not the first time protesters have targeted Hout Bay harbour. Last year protesters boarded some vessels in the adjoining powerboat marina, stealing flares that were used in running battles with the police. Harbour infrastructure, such as power cables and water pipes, have also been vandalised.
Most of the protesters live in the impoverished settlement of Hangberg overlooking the harbour, scene of many violent confrontations with police in recent years. The residents claim they have been systematically excluded from government’s formal fishing rights allocation process. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is currently implementing a new small-scale fishing policy in response to these concerns.