A TALE OF TWO BEACHES

Dur­ban’s southern promenade is the go-to hang­out for lo­cals and traders

CityPress - - Front Page - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

For Vika Nyawo, Dur­ban’s southern beaches are not about swim­ming, laz­ing around in the sun or cy­cling along the beach­front’s land­mark promenade. For him, they are about the splen­did legacy of the mad rush of in­fra­struc­ture up­grades that took place in 2010 ahead of the Fifa World Cup.

To the 45-year-old fa­ther of two from KwaMashu town­ship’s L-Sec­tion, the stretch of the city’s Golden Mile – run­ning north­wards from uShaka Marine World and past Ad­ding­ton Beach to South Beach – rep­re­sents a means of sur­vival and of pro­vid­ing for his fam­ily.

Nyawo has been hus­tling with a wheeled cooler box sell­ing cooldrinks, sweets and ice lol­lies on this stretch of beach since 1992, long be­fore uShaka was built or the run­down Golden Mile got its face-lift.

Nyawo is eat­ing an Eskimo Pie from his own stock, but his fo­cus is not on the Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon heat.

Nyawo’s con­cern is rais­ing reg­is­tra­tion fees for his boys for Jan­uary and, more im­me­di­ately, making the R450 he needs to pay the eThekwini mu­nic­i­pal­ity on New Year’s Day for the right to park his cart on the Up­per Marine Pa­rade and ply his trade.

Nyawo makes the pay­ment twice a year, un­like the horde of street traders who spring up on his turf ev­ery De­cem­ber for their bite at the tourist rands that are spent in the city ev­ery fes­tive sea­son – some­thing that gets up his nose.

Last year, more than R3 bil­lion was spent in the city by the 7.4 mil­lion tourists who vis­ited, ac­cord­ing to Brand SA.

“I do not mind that I pay the city, but they are do­ing noth­ing to stop the peo­ple who just come and sell here in the fes­tive sea­son with­out pay­ing [to park their carts]. It is un­fair. The city does not help us,” he says.

Nyawo’s cart is over­flow­ing with can­dyfloss, sweet dum­mies and crisps. His nephew Si­fiso, who dodges the cam­era, runs Nyawo’s sec­ond ice cream trol­ley and a stall with braaied mealies and slices of pineap­ple, plain chilli or sweet spice.

“This is our busy time,” says Nyawo. “We can make as much as R1 200 a day. This time of year we can sell ev­ery­thing. The rest of the time we are quiet, [earn­ing] maybe R200 to R300 a day and about R500 a day on week­ends.”

On New Year’s Day last year, 30 000 peo­ple de­scended on Dur­ban’s Golden Mile beaches. This year, city au­thor­i­ties ex­pected even more peo­ple.

Most of the tourists, in par­tic­u­lar white and/or for­eign ones, head for the city’s north­ern beaches or Umh­langa, says Nyawo. “There are those who come for uShaka, but most tourists no longer come to the south. Here it is the lo­cals or tourists from South Africa.”

A short dis­tance away, Frans Mthethwa (49) is also making a liv­ing off the beach. He works as a labourer for the seine net­ters who launch and beach their boats at Vetch’s Beach south of uShaka, and he fishes for the pot. He has also cre­ated sand sculp­tures un­der the pier out­side Moyo restau­rant.

His cur­rent work is ti­tled Julius Malema Be­ing Eaten by a Croc­o­dile for His Big Mouth and S***ting His Pants. It is a dra­matic sculp­ture, fash­ioned from an old pair of jeans, sand and sea­wa­ter.

He scans the area for peo­ple tak­ing pic­tures with­out pay­ing. “You got an ex­pen­sive phone but you want to steal my thing!” he bel­lows at a mid­dleaged In­dian man snap­ping his sculp­ture with an iPhone 6. “Throw some­thing – even 50 cents, lah­nee. Don’t be like that.” A hand­ful of coins drops from the pier. “Some days are good here and I can make R300 to R500. When it’s swak [weak], R60. I don’t have a job. I make beau­ti­ful cup­boards but I can­not get work, so I make th­ese with sand and sea­wa­ter. Sand and sea­wa­ter, bra.”

Ashin Sanichur, a Dur­ban teacher, is spend­ing the day at the beach with fam­ily and his friend pas­tor Brian Kan­na­p­athu from Pine­town. He feels that al­though the beaches were opened to all in the early 1990s fol­low­ing the De­fi­ance Cam­paign to force the end of apartheid seg­re­ga­tion of ameni­ties, the di­vi­sions are still vis­i­ble.

Ad­ding­ton Beach, 50 me­tres to the north of where they are sit­ting, was the fo­cal point of the cam­paign, along with the city’s land­mark hos­pi­tal, which was also for whites only un­til apartheid fell.

“Look here,” he says, point­ing to groups of peo­ple clus­tered along eth­nic lines. “It is In­di­ans sit­ting with In­di­ans, blacks with blacks; there are hardly any whites, but those here are sit­ting to­gether. There is no real in­te­gra­tion. There is a need for so­cial in­ter­ven­tion to cre­ate ac­tiv­i­ties that will bring peo­ple to­gether. That’s the story you need to tell.”

Sanichur, who grew up in Dur­ban’s Mag­a­zine Bar­racks – cre­ated to ac­com­mo­date In­dian in­den­tured labour­ers – has been swim­ming at Dur­ban’s beaches all his life, first at Snake Park, re­served for In­di­ans dur­ing apartheid, and lat­terly at Ad­ding­ton and the uShaka beach.

“We used to walk from Mag­a­zine Bar­racks to the beach ev­ery day as kids. We grew up in the wa­ter. To­day, too, we love the beach. I fish, I swim, I re­lax. It is beau­ti­ful,” he says.

Off the sand on a stretch of grass, Mbali Maphumulo and her friends Thandiwe Mthembu, S’ne Shandu and Nokuthula Sit­hole are chilling on fold-up chairs, en­joy­ing the breeze and a rel­a­tively quiet beach ahead of the mass in­flux on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The four, who have come “all the way from Fol­weni” about 30km south of Dur­ban, pre­fer the city’s southern beaches to Amanzimtoti, which is far closer to home.

“It is very safe and beau­ti­ful here,” says Mthembu (29), a sales as­sis­tant. “Here all races are hav­ing a good time and en­joy­ing them­selves, not like Toti.

“I swim like a fish,” she beams through a gold slit while ne­go­ti­at­ing a large packet of crisps. “This beach is beau­ti­ful for swim­ming.”

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LETSIE

EYE-CATCHING Im­pres­sive sand sculp­tures are a prom­i­nent fea­ture on uShaka beach

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LETSIE

ANY­ONE FOR A RIDE? Rick­shaws dot the uShaka promenade

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LETSIE

STAY IN THE SAFETY ZONE A life­guard at uShaka beach en­sures the crowds stick to the rules

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