FRIENDS OF SHARK BAY APPEAL Friends of Langebaan would have noticed the recent erection of signage on the “white road” linking Langebaan with Shark Bay Beach at both the Farmhouse Hotel and Park Drive ends indicating that the road is “closed” as a provincial road. This road was originally proclaimed as a provincial road in the 1960’s, following the route of a much older public thoroughfare. It was effectively realigned along Sunbird Avenue and Park Drive in 1991, but it seems to have taken the provincial roads department 20 years to erect the signage and to conclude the process. On or about 15 May 2011 the landowner erected gates blocking public access to the “White Road”, still in constant use by walkers, joggers and cyclists, and an important access route to Shark Bay. In its subsequent application to the Cape High Court in June 2011 the Langebaan Ratepayers’ and Residents’
Association argued that legally the realignment of the provincial road had merely returned the White Road route to its original status as a public thoroughfare, which it has been for hundreds of years and that the landowner therefore has no right whatever to interfere with its use by the general public. The Association’s legal team are in possession of old maps going back as far as 1796 showing this route in continual public use for at least two centuries. Such “immemorial” use is generally recognised by the Courts as establishing an “immemorial right” and has served as the basis for their finding in favour of the public for example in the recent Noetzie case in Knysna which is very similar to the Langebaan case. Section 13 of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 specifically recognises the public’s right of reasonable access to coastal public property such as the public beach at Klein Oostewal. Following court action started by the Langebaan Ratepayers and Resident’s Association, the Cape High Court ordered on 24 June 2011 that pending a full hearing the landowner, Dormell Properties, may not proceed with criminal charges against any member of the public relating to trespass and malicious damage to property on the portion of the “white road” in dispute. The public continues to use the road in great numbers. Dormell Properties was ordered by the Court to file its opposing papers by 14 July 2011, but failed to do so until 24 October 2011. The hearing will now take place on 22 November 2011. What the case really is about is the right of the public, established over many years, to use the “White Road” for recreation and as a thoroughfare for access to the public beach at Klein Oostewal (Shark Bay), an internationally known tourist site and local recreational asset. As a result of the efforts over many years of a concerned public, the residential development application of Dormell Properties for Shark Bay was refused in April 2011, and earlier attempts in 2009 by the same landowner to erect a boom on the tarred road to the West Coast National Park, a Langebaan tourism lifeline, were also stopped. Following the landowner’s recent actions we again appeal to concerned and responsible citizens to rally to the support of Friends of Shark Bay to ensure that the public’s established rights of use of the “white road”, a valuable tourism product and important resource for Langebaan, are protected and that it remains, as it has for centuries been, accessible to all.
Your contributions, however modest, would be greatly appreciated. Deposits in support of the legal costs of the action against the landowner can be made to:
Van Rensburg and Co. Trust Account
ABSA Bank Tokai Acc. No: 4054873920
Branch Code: 631209
Reference: VRL 0265
Thanks for your support!
Friends of Shark Bay Appeal