East Cape News (Grahamstown)

16 December 2002

South Africa: Beach Entrepreneurs Battle Restauranteers

Port Alfred — An acrimonious demonstration with racial undertones on Plettenberg Bay's main beach was averted yesterday morning by traffic officials.

Thirty-eight members of the township-based entrepreneurial group Yes had started handing out their drinks and snacks in protest to three restaurant owners invoking a bylaw prohibiting trading within 50m of their venues.

However, the traffic officers appeared during the protest and told the group that the the bylaw applied to only 15m not 50m and the group was allowed to carry on working their council-approved concession.

A spokesperson for the group said they were looking for a way to make money and gain valuable business experience.

She said they were granted permission to sell soft drinks on Plett's packed beaches, but three restaurant owners invoked a by-law that would prevent any trade within 50 metres of their establishments.

Yesterday morning the group descended on Plett's main beach and started handing out their stock for free while explaining to people why they were doing so.

She said the aspiring entrepreneurs from Kwanokuthula and Kurland Village, just outside Plettenberg Bay, were between 18 and 32 years old.

"Yes Project" executive director Mary Ann Mngomezulu said the group had returned to selling their goods immediately.

However, she said: "There's no victory until we've cashed up." "This is for a good cause, and we've had basically no help." "Our people are well-mannered, in uniform and professional. They have been calm and positive throughout this experience." Nearly 950 000 holidaymakers will visit Plettenberg Bay's beaches over the next year.

The frustrated group spokesperson said: "While our new South Africa was born 8 years ago not a single Black-owned mainstream business exists in Plettenberg Bay today.

"We identified Plett's beaches as significant sites of the mainstream economic activity in which we will participate. However, we also recognize that the beaches are public spaces and "captive markets". "We believe that having the advantage of being able to operate there also brings the responsibility of operating transparently and sharing our profit with the community as a whole. "We set up a Community Development Trust that will receive 30 per cent of our profit".

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