Coast KZN

02 May 2020

Confusion over lockdown permits for fishers

Thabiso Goba (Berea Mail) Picture: Thabiso Goba

CONFUSION reigns among subsistence fishers after Riaz Khan, Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fisherfolk Forum was detained for allegedly issuing fake fishing permits.

Across the country there have been reports of subsistence fishers clashing with police. Khan said since the announcement of the national lockdown, they had been in communication with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to expedite essential services permits for subsistence fishers in Durban.

“I got a call from Jayce Govender (eThekwini municipal lifeguards manager) saying that some of our fishers were fishing without permits and I told him that he could arrest them with my full blessings because we had not got the permits at the time,” said Khan.

In a series of emails seen by Berea Mail, Khan was issued a permit by an official from DEFF that was given to all small-scale fishers co-operatives.

“Small-scale fishers are regarded as essential services, and so, they are exempted to fish during lockdown, but they must adhere to all conditions,” said the DEFF official in an email addressed to Khan.  According to the Department, fishing forms part of essential services during lock down.

After printing the permits and forwarding them to his members, Khan said five police vehicles showed up at his home and took him away for questioning, in front of his children.

“They treated me like a common criminal which was uncalled for,” said Khan.  Khan said despite the police confiscating his laptop, he was never charged with any crime or given a case number. Warrant Officer Eddie de Bruyne, confirmed that Khan was not charged with any crime.

“The matter is still under investigation and we have referred it to the senior prosecutor and she will take the appropriate measures,” he said.  De Bruyne said Khan was brought in for distributing fake permits.

In the meantime Khan has implored all his fishers to cease operations till the matter has been resolved.