The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa has urged all South Africans and holiday makers to be responsible as they exercise their right to equitable access to Coastal Public Property (CPP) this festive season.
South Africa has a coastline of over 3000 KM with numerous beaches designated for public’s enjoyment and recreation. Everyone has a right to access these beaches and public amenities, as contained in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) (ICM Act).
Government, in its capacity as the public trustee of all coastal public property, has a duty to manage, protect and enhance the interests of the whole community, so as to ensure that the natural resources within the coastal areas are used in a socially, economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable manner for the benefit of the current and future generations.
Minister Molewa reiterates that Coastal Public Property (CPP) belongs to all citizens of South Africa. Access to natural resources including the beach is a constitutional right enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. It is thus unlawful, in terms of the ICM Act to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach, says Minister Molewa.
The Act stipulates that any natural person in the Republic has:
1. A right of reasonable access to coastal public property; and
2. Is entitled to use and enjoy coastal public property, provided such use-
3. Does not adversely affect the rights of members of the of the public to use and enjoy the coastal public property;
4. Does not hinder the State in the performance of its duty to protect the environment; and
5. Does not cause an adverse effect to the environment.
It is therefore unlawful for anyone to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach, not permitted under that Act. It is only under certain strict circumstances that the public’s access to the beach may be limited. In addition, under the Act, no one may charge a fee (directly or indirectly) in order to access coastal public property, without the permission of the Minister responsible for environmental affairs.
Most importantly, the ICM Act also requires the users of costal public property to exercise duty of care, while they enjoy these facilities. It is in this regard that Minister Molewa appeals to tourists and holiday makers that, while they enjoy the splendour of these facilities they do so in a manner that does not compromise the integrity of the environment.
It is therefore our responsibility not to litter nor drive on our beaches. We are all duty bound to keep our beaches clean and useable. Let us all work together to ensure that we eliminate all items that could pollute our beach environment as this is important for our health and wellbeing, said Minister Molewa.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) will be embarking on a coastal awareness campaign that will amongst others educate South Africans about their right to access to coastal public property, and their responsibility to keep such property in a usable condition. The campaign will also focus on the use of Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) in the coastal area.
The use of vehicles in the coastal area is generally prohibited, given the need to balance and manage conflict that may arise between the ORV users and the general public that accesses the coast by foot. In addition, the vehicles have potential to destabilise and destroy vegetated dunes. The vegetated dunes are important as they absorb the energy generated by waves and storms and protect the area behind them from wave damage and salt intrusion. They act as a barrier and the first line of protection for inland areas, homes or property from the wrath of ocean waves.
Members of the public are encouraged to report all acts that may restrict free public access to coastal zones, and illegal use of Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) in these areas.
Source: Government of South Africa