Media Release: Inland fishers join their coastal counterparts at national gathering in Cape Town

History was made last week, when a delegation of Inland fishers attended the Annual General Meeting of Masifundise Development Trust and Coastal Links South Africa, for the first time.

The organisations currently represent more than 4 000 coastal small-scale fishers from 90 fishing communities around South Africa.

Five delegates, representing Inland fishers along the Van der Kloof Dam that spans the Northern Cape and Free State, attended the AGM and a preceding workshop from 25 to 27 May 2016.

Raphael Benadie and Daleen Benadie, represented the Keurtjieskloof Vissers Gemeenskap, Lorenzo Danster and Mara Demas, represented the Petrusville Vissers Gemeenskap and Johannes Coetzee represented the Luckhoff Vissers Gemeenskap in the Free State.

At the AGM, Raphael Benadie made it clear that they had not come to the AGM to join, but fishers will consider this once they have received report backs.

He however praised Masifundise and CLSA for the help they have given the fishers of Van der Kloof Dam up to that stage, and for the positive role the organisations played in helping them to fight their struggles at the dam.

“We are confronted with the same issues, and we can make use of the same resources, which CLSA use in their struggles, to fight and engage in our struggles, when we join hands,” said Benadie.

CLSA and Masifundise have already achieved many successes, especially how they managed to secure a small scale fisheries policies for fishers in all the coastal provinces of South Africa, we can learn and draw strength from those struggles, as inland fishers,” he said.

Benadie further indicated that the small scale fisheries policy fits like a glove when it comes to solving the problems of inland fishers, and that they would use it to engage the government to get a similar policy for inland fishers adopted.

Johannes Coetzee, the chairperson of the Luckhoff Vissers Gemeenskap in the Free State said that he is happy that they could make it to attend the Masifundise and CLSA AGMs, and that as inland fishers that there are many benefits to be derived from joining CLSA.

“As fishers at Van der Kloof Dam, we face many legal battles, fishers get fined and harassed by the police, and CLSA and Masifundise, through Legal Resources Centre (LRC) have won many court battles,” said Coetzee.

He believes that should they have LRC on their side, the harassment of fishers will dramatically reduce and fishers will have a more peaceful existence at the dam.

The many workshops on issues affecting the rights of fishers, Coetzee believes can help their communities a lot.

Coetzee says that he is now inspired and feels that they can go out and organise the fishers all along the Orange River.

“After we have discussed in our organisations, we will look at becoming the inland fisheries arm of CLSA,” said Coetzee.

Benadie says that once their communities have decided, as inland fisheries, they will take up a seat on the CLSA national executive committee (NEC) and on the Masifundise Board.

Issued by:

Masifundise Development Trust (MDT) and Coastal Links South Africa (CLSA), Tel: 021 685 4549

Communications Officer

 Nosipho Singiswa

Tel: 021 685 4549

Cell: 074 470 4508

Email: infocom@masifundise.org.za

For more details also contact: Raphael Benadie on 074 579 9336 or Michelle Joshua on 079 381 7692