Dwesa-Cwebe communities will make a bid for the court to review a decision taken in 2000 that made the Dwesa Cwebe a Marine Protected Area (MPA) during an appeal hearing in the Mthatha High Court.

The appeal against the conviction of David Gongqose, Siphumile Windase and Nkosiphendule Juza in 2012, will be before the Mthatha High Court Friday, November 13.

The three, all from Dwesa-Cwebe, had pleaded not guilty to the following four charges;

  • Attempting to fish in a Marine Protected Area (“MPA”) without permission in terms of section 43(2)(a) of the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998 (“the MLRA”);
  • Entering in a national wildlife reserve without a permit in terms of section 29(1)(a) of the Transkei Environmental Conservation Decree 9 of 1992 (“the Decree”);
  • Conveying into a national wildlife reserve, or, within such a reserve, being in possession of any weapon, explosive, trap or poison, in terms of section 29(1)(b) of the Decree; and
  • Wilfully killing or injuring or disturbing any wild animal other than fish caught in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed in terms of the Decree, in terms of section 29(1)(c) of the Decree.

All three were only convicted on the first charge. Mr Gongqose and Mr Windase were sentenced to a fine of R500, alternatively 30 days’ imprisonment; and Mr Juza (a juvenile) was cautioned and discharged.

The appeal against their conviction includes a constitutional challenge to the Marine Living Resources Act. The communities want the court to review the decision to declare the Dwesa-Cwebe Reserve a no-take MPA and the decision not to grant the applicants exemption from the prohibition on fishing, alternatively the failure to decide whether or not to grant the Applicants exemption.

The fishers want partial access to the MPA in terms of their customary rights, and argue that environmental protection and sustainable use of marine resources are vital to their livelihoods, and that there was no consultation with them when the MPA was declared.

The Dwesa-Cweve communities launched the review in 2013. All appellants in this matter are represented by Legal Resources Centre.

The appeal case is by three applicants Gongqose, Windase and Juza and the respondents being the State. While the review case is launched by nine applicants which include Hobeni, Mendwana and Cwebe commuties against eight respondents which Include Minister Of Agriculture, Forestry And Fisheries, The Minister Of Environmental Affairs And Eastern Cape Parks And Tourism Agency.

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