Illegal sand mining continues unabated on Wild Coast

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, and Tourism

The dunes, estuaries and beaches of the beautiful Wild Coast continue to be decimated by illegal sand miners, despite the efforts of coastal law enforcement officers to bring this practise to an end.

The Democratic Alliance is calling on MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mlungisi Mvoko, to ensure that all the ongoing illegal sand activities along this very sensitive and beautiful stretch of coast are halted as a matter of urgency and that heavy penalties are imposed on perpetrators.

Attempts to stop the decimation of this beautiful coastline, such as cement poles buried in beach access roads have failed as illegal miners have simply destroyed natural vegetation and made alternative roads through forest and dune vegetation to access the beach to get sand.

As a result, dune structures and vegetation have been destroyed and estuaries and rivers have been structurally damaged to the point that the natural flow has been altered.

As climate change manifests globally, extreme weather events are becoming more and more common. In the eastern parts of the province in particular, flood events are very destructive and on the increase. These flood events will have a devastating effect on these degraded natural structures

Extreme erosion will increase, as was seen on the KwaZulu-Natal coast during the recent devastating floods there.

Homes, roads and dune vegetation such as indigenous coastal forest will be destroyed.

While the Democratic Alliance is painfully aware of the lack of formal job opportunities in the province and that people will try anything to put food on their tables, criminal activities are not the solution.

The MEC must ensure that all vacant funded environmental law enforcement and biodiversity officer posts within the Environmental Affairs programme of DEDEAT are filled with immediate effect. These are the foot soldiers that continue to protect our natural assets against all odds.

There needs to be a multi-departmental solution, working together with SAPS and the private sector to monitor, report and shut down all illegal sand mining.

Until such time that environmental crimes are treated with the gravity they deserve, our unique natural heritage, in particular the Wild Coast, will continue to fall prey to illegal and reckless activities that will ultimately destroy them.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight to protect our environment, which sustains us and which is responsible for maintaining thousands of jobs in our province.