On the night of Wednesday 16 September 2020, Celimpilo Mdluli and two other fishermen from the Nibela cooperative were shot by rangers at the St Lucia Lake while fishing. Celimpilo unfortunately died as a result of the shooting, the other fisher was shot and injured in the leg, while the third managed to escape and hide.
The Nibela rural community depends on fishing as a means to put food on the table and this ruthless killing has left the community afraid of carrying out their livelihoods.
A collective of organisations including Masifundise issued a statement, which read as follows;
“The lack of clear and co-ordinated communication between DEFF, iSimangaliso, Ezemvelo Wildlife and the small-scale fishers regarding access of small-scale fishers to protected areas has had deadly consequences in this instance. The weaponised policing of conservation areas, in the name of biodiversity protection, has led to the killing of a person who believed, and had been told by DEFF, that he had the right to fish where he was fishing.”
Masifundise implores the Department to put measures in place to facilitate the protection of small-scale fishers. We further urge government to engage with local conservation authorities on their conduct with small-scale fishers as well as investigate the killing of Celimpilo in order for the perpetrators to be brought to book. Masifundise demands justice for the senseless killing of Celimpilo!