In December last year, the Venterstad Magistrate Court dismissed trespassing charges against Norvalspont inland small-scale fishers.

In November 2022, three inland fishers from Norvalspont were charged with “unlawfully entering or remaining in a special nature reserve or world heritage site” while fishing to put food on the table.

They also had their fishing gear confiscated, including lines, hooks, fishing rods, and their fish.

The inland fishers were fined R1000 each or ordered to appear in court on 13 December 2022. Their charges were dismissed after the judge noted that they depend on fishing for their livelihood. Additionally, the court did not receive a copy of the charge sheet from SAPS officials.

Despite being cleared of these charges, these inland fishers’ fishing gear that was confiscated at the river, has still not been returned to them.

Norvalspont is located in the Northern Cape, and borders the Eastern Cape and Free State province. Fishing in the Orange River and at Gariep Dam provides a livelihood and food for the inland small-scale fishers of this community. Without their fishing gear, they are unable to perform livelihood activities and provide for their families.

We strongly urge SAPS Venterstad to return the fishing gear so that the local fishers are able to resume livelihood activities.

“I am happy with the court’s decision. If the magistrate judge can recognise us as fishers and understand that we are fishing to put food on the table, we don’t see why we are still being criminalised by local authorities,” said Wilfred Soul, small-sale fisher from Norvalspont.

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