Jozini is a small inland fishing community located in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Jozini dam is situated in the community on the Pongola river.
The dam is a source of livelihood for inland small-scale fishers in Jozini who depend on it for fishing.
Earlier in March this year, Masifundise held a women’s meeting in Jozini. The women shared stories of their traditional and cultural connection to the water body that is Jozini dam.
Historically, they were able to catch fish themselves, made makeshift fishing rods and weaved baskets with natural plant material, as well as using pieces of cloth to catch fish. This was at a time when the water was still flowing naturally and was much shallower than today. It allowed women to access the water so they could catch their own fish.
With the construction of the dam in the 1970’s, many challenges arose in the inland fishing community of Jozini, including vulnerability to harassment and criminalisation of their fishing practices.
Today, women depend on men to catch fish, they then buy the fish from them in order to sell to the public. Their dependence on men to catch fish means that if the men are not able to fish due to lack of access or harassment, they as women suffer too.
Harassment is a major issue for inland small-scale fishers in Jozini dam. December Menyuka, an inland small-scale fisher from Thobothini, shares his experience with harassment at the dam:
“I was born and bred in Jozini alongside the dam. The Jozini dam has always played a central role in providing fish for the community, but our livelihood activities have become increasingly criminalised. We are often harassed by police and other local authorities when securing our livelihoods.”