Fishers at Vander Kloof Dam in the Northern Cape recently scored a major victory, when the case against Brenton Louw, Jaco Renoster, Jakob Booysen and Freddie Minnaar from Petrusville were set aside and scrapped from the roll by the court.
They were charged for trespassing on the property of the Vander Kloof Dam when they were harvesting fish from the kraals in the Dam in March this year.
This came after a decision at the last Task Team Meeting, which is looking at setting up a fishing project at the dam to help the communities solving some of their problems with food insecurity.
Raphael Benadie, chairperson of Keurkieskloof Vissers Gemeenskap in Vander Kloof, said that when the case was heard before the court, the chairpersons of Petrusville, Keurkieskloof and Luckhoff, made a presentation to the court.
“The court listened to the chairpersons from the three fishing communities, and on the basis that people’s livelihoods must be secured, the case against the fishers were set aside,” said Benadie.
The court also requested more information from the fishing communities, and said it would want to open its doors to the fishers to listen to their struggle for survival.
“The prosecutor requested more information, and also a letter from the Minster of Water and Sanitation that indeed permission was given for the fishers to fish in the dam.”
The chairpersons also explained to the court that the fishers were fined for fishing in the Free State, but that they were brought to a court in the Northern Cape, and Benadie said that the prosecutor seemed very interested in this aspect.
“We are happy for the process, because now we can fish legally, but, the actions of the police are also causing problems amongst the fishers, as the police are trying to cause divisions amongst the fishing communities.
“Lately they have only started to fine and summons fishers from Petrusville, not harassing the fishers from Luckhoff and Keurkieskloof.
Benadie said that in the past, there has been disunity amongst the fishers from the different communities, but when they started to organise themselves, they realised that it is better for them to unite.
“We started to work together, and managed to accomplish good things for our communities, and we will work hard not to let the police divide us again, the Vander Kloof police won’t be successful.”