You see we can’t live inland with the rest of the people. We go and live outside on the beach. That’s how we survive and what we can do. People come here for a week; they can’t survive like we survive.
Ja hey, I thought I had lost my life on the South Pier. My brother Razak was behind me, and he was busy winding his one-hundred-yard new line my mother bought him, I’ll never forget. It was a cold winter’s night and fishing was not good and we were genuinely numb, togged up properly you know, five, six jerseys inside, big boots and alles.
As indigenous fishers we have our own ways of fishing that government is against, we make our own fishing grass basket (for handpicking fishing method) and we weave our own nets. Because of the changing times and things have developed, we now buy nets which are made in China, and that saves time because normally to weave a net can take up to a month.
Erhardt is absolutely obsessed with fishing. He lives, breathes it; especially fly fishing in particular. He has loved fishing from childhood. He used to beg his father to buy him fishing gear, he would buy the magazines, get books on fishing; any resource that he could and he taught himself how to fish. And I can’t quite understand it or explain that kind of passion.
The guy comes running to me, ‘hey Snow, my connection fell in, now between the pier.’ This guy is jammed in between the blocks and the pier, and there’s no way you can get to him, because when I came there with my head torch, I looked at how I’m going to get down there. I know there’s no way you can jump in there and get him…
In September 2019 my family and I went on holiday with some friends to a small costal town called Umzumbe approximately 100 kilometres south of Durban. When we arrived we all clambered down the dune path to get our feet into the cool sand. There the sea was calm and the sun was gentle. In the distance I noticed two fishers fishing on the rocks.
Masifundise played a big role because they taught us about our rights and to fight for them as fishers because we were discriminated and we were not allowed to fish anywhere at sea. A strange thing was that other races were allowed to fish or harvest mussels as much as they pleased without any problem or arrested
An ocean full of fish is any fisher’s dream. At the peak of Apartheid, a black man could barely stand on the ocean shore line let alone fish. A fisher was not attacked for fishing without a permit, but for the colour of their skin and for being in a whites-only designated area.
We hadn’t started fishing when my brother attempted to jump on the dolos but he jumped onto a sardine. He slid and he was gone. I promise you I don’t know whether it was tears or whatever, but all I could think of was how am I going to tell my mother. And then as we got down, I couldn’t see him.
Passing on the fishing baton to instill a sense of identity and culture in his children, Mr. Mbhele has taught his children how to fish so that they could decide if fishing was a viable career path for them. Creating and leaving a legacy is important to him which is why he taught them everything he knows about fishing
One morning we went out fishing and on one of my first casts, I caught a big brown trout. As we just started pulling it in, Erhardt caught a brown trout as well. That’s like two in a row, it’s unheard of, and nice decent sized trout right after one another.
“We pay for fishing licence and bait licence, and yet we are banned from the deep-water piers. We are fishing to eke out a living and we pray that the President will intervene on the fisher folk’s behalf and hear our cry, as our cries are falling on deaf ears,” explains a concerned Layla.
One of the most painful hazards of fishing is getting hooked – not just to the sport but by the actual fish hook. Anytime you go fishing there is a chance of getting yourself hooked. It is just inherent in the sport. The only way to get help is to have a first aid kit in hand or someone trained in first aid, or both.
Small scale fishers know the sea. Their relationships with the ocean are characterized by deep respect, intergenerational knowledge and sacred cultural connection.