Wa­ter sports clubs in Dur­ban mak­ing waves

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

Dur­ban’s Vetch’s Beach, the scene of protests last fes­tive sea­son over the ex­clu­sion of black peo­ple from a wa­ter sports club op­er­at­ing on mu­nic­i­pal land, is back in the news.

Two of the oc­cu­pants of the precinct – the Point Yacht Club and the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club – went to the Dur­ban High Court af­ter the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club sought an in­ter­dict on Thurs­day to stop mem­bers of the yacht club from build­ing a wall sep­a­rat­ing the two clubs.

The two clubs are part of the pro­posed Point Wa­ter Sports Club that will be built by the city. The clubs had op­er­ated sep­a­rately on city beach­front land, but the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club and Point Yacht Club set up a joint club­house in terms of an agree­ment be­tween them and the city in 2013.

In terms of the agree­ment, the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club would run the main restau­rant and pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties, while the in­di­vid­ual clubs would be re­spon­si­ble for their sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, un­til the con­struc­tion of the Point Wa­ter Sports Club takes place.

How­ever, a dis­pute arose be­tween the two clubs over the use of mem­ber­ship fees and the op­er­a­tion of the restau­rant, which ex­cluded cer­tain races. It be­came the scene of protests or­gan­ised by the ANC Youth League last Jan­uary.

The dis­pute went to ar­bi­tra­tion, which failed. The Point Yacht Club then de­cided to re­build a bound­ary wall be­tween the two clubs. Af­ter build­ing ma­te­ri­als were de­liv­ered to the Point Yacht Club side of the club­house last week, the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club went to court on Fri­day to stop the wall from be­ing built.

In the court pa­pers, Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club sec­re­tary Leigh Phillips said that the club – which had op­er­ated on the premises for 65 years and had more than 3 200 mem­bers – had spent R3.5 mil­lion on ren­o­va­tions to join the two club­houses and to up­grade the kitchen and restau­rant area. Thirty per­ma­nent and 10 ca­sual staff had been em­ployed.

Phillips said the Point Yacht Club had be­come “frus­trated” with the process and de­cided to “take the law into its own hands” and build a wall be­tween the two clubs. “[This] would be akin to re­solv­ing a dis­pute be­tween the pas­sen­gers on a ship at sea by saw­ing the ship in half,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, build­ing a wall would deny the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club ac­cess to the main kitchen, which is on the Point Yacht Club side of the fa­cil­ity, Phillips said, say­ing that it would also pre­vent the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club from run­ning its restau­rants, which are a ma­jor source of in­come.

In his re­sponse, the Point Yacht Club asked the court to strike the ap­pli­ca­tion for an in­ter­dict off the court roll.

Point Yacht Club com­modore Craig Mil­lar said in pa­pers that while the yacht club had agreed to hold on build­ing the wall when it was in­formed of the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club’s ap­pli­ca­tion, the agree­ment be­tween the clubs had been vi­o­lated by the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club.

Mil­lar said that the Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club had pulled out of an ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing ear­lier this year, forc­ing the Point Yacht Club to de­cide to re­build a wall be­hind its club­house.

He ac­cused Dur­ban Un­der­sea Club chair­per­son Cuane Hall of at­tempt­ing to ma­nip­u­late the agree­ment to build a “su­per­club” and se­cure con­trol of the fu­ture precinct.

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