Parliamentary Question: Owners of houseboats in Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park

3747

Mrs P C Duncan (DA) to ask the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs:

(1) (a) Why legal letters have been directed at the owners of houseboats in Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park, instructing them to remove their boats from their existing moorings and to relocate them elsewhere and (b) what are the names of the owners of the houseboats who are expected to comply;
(2) whether the owners of all houseboats have been instructed to remove their houseboats; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, why;
(3) whether SA National Parks (SANParks) has attempted to remove the houseboats before the time; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(4) whether SANParks intends developing Kraalbaai; if not, why not; if so, why can the houseboats not be accommodated in any development plans;
whether the affected houseboat owners were consulted by SANParks before being instructed to move; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Mrs P C Duncan (DA)

SECRETARY TO PARLIAMENT

HANSARD

PAPERS OFFICE

PRESS
1697. MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ANSWERS:
(1) (a) The matter of the legitimacy of the private houseboats in Kraalbaai goes back to 1985 when the Langebaan National Park was proclaimed. With the proclamation, SANParks inherited the presence of these houseboats that had previously been evicted from nearby Rietbaai when the SANDF took over Donkergat to establish a military base there. In a correspondence dated 2 Jan 1986 SANParks sought to establish by what, if any, contractual agreement boat owners were authorized to be in Kraalbaai. None such agreements existed, but owners claimed they had “historical rights”.

In order to regularize the relationship with the owners in the terms of the National Parks Act (Act 57 of 1976), SANParks agreed to issue permits to the owners with the express condition that (a) the concession shall continue for as long as it may please the (National Parks) Board (b) the concession was granted in their personal capacity (c) the concession was not transferable (letter to owners 02 March 1988 by Dr G Robinson).

The ongoing legal question has not been about ownership of the water as it is undisputedly the legislated mandate of SANParks to manage the marine environment on behalf of the state. The challenge from the boat owners is their claimed “historical right” to be there. In a number of legal opinions over the years the SANParks case has been confirmed that the boat owners cannot claim prescriptive rights as their permit conditions expressly gave the landlord, SANParks, the right to terminate at its discretion. Activities are therefore taking place in Kraalbaai without SANParks sanction, to the benefit of a few individuals. SANParks intends to develop the area for the benefit of all visitors to the West Coast National Park.
(b)

Mr D van Schalkwyk

Mr H Koen

Mr M Koen

Mr D J Heyns

Mr R Verhovert

Mr A H Stemmet

Mr W C O’Reilly

Dr O Seele & Mr R Glover

Mr L Strydom

Mr F E B Tritton

Mr G Hardcastle

Francois Stemmet

Mr M Brouwer

Mr C Lumb

Allens Meschco (Bossomworht, Schmidt & Allen)

Mrs W J Boer

Mr E L Hugo & Mr JP Stemmet
(2) Yes. In a formal notice on 20 Feb 2002 boat owners were told that all leases and agreements were terminated as at 31 March 2002 and that they were to remove their vessels by 31 May 2002.
(3) Yes. In a formal notice on 20 Feb 2002 boat owners were told that all leases and agreements were terminated as at 31 March 2002 and that they were to remove their vessels by 31 May 2002. This was challenged by landowners, which led to a standoff. Through this action SANParks thus formally recorded that it refuted any claims of rights to be there and subsequently no longer took any rentals. In addition, SANParks in 2008 engaged the law firm Fairbridges to formalize the administrative process to evict the houseboat owners in accordance with requirements of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No.3 of 2000).

Yes. SANParks is currently running an EIA for the development of a rest camp intended to benefit the general public at Kraalbaai. Initially the plans were for stilted chalets in the lagoon. This has been changed to terrestrially based chalets. Should further houseboats be built they would be done within the concessioned rights to the concessionaire, within environmental and safety specifications set by SANParks. None of the illegal houseboats meets acceptable standards and SANParks has no interest in acquiring them. SANParks has consistently reinforced its position that it will make moorings available to the general public on a daily rental basis, but that exclusive rights cannot continue to be granted to a select few based on unsubstantiated “historical claims”.

Yes. In a formal notice on 20 Feb 2002 boat owners were told that all leases and agreements were terminated as at 31 March 2002 and that they were to remove their vessels by 31 May 2002.

A letter was sent to all owners on the 29 June 2009, inviting them to meet with SANParks and their legal team and furnish reasons why they should not be moved from Kraalbaai.

The meeting took place on 13 November 2009 in Fairbridges offices in Cape Town. Only three houseboat owners were represented. Several owners subsequently sent emails and met with management, others have been silent and not responded to correspondence



Following what SANParks considered unconvincing submissions, letters were sent to boat owners in Feb 2010 indicating that they had to remove their boats by 31 May 2010 failing which SANParks would launch a High Court application to have them removed.
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