Cape Town - Beaches across South Africa were turned into protest sites as civil society, environmental groups, and concerned residents gathered to raise of awareness, and demand that Shell halt its 3D seismic survey off the Wild Coast in search of hydrocarbon reserves beneath the seabed.
Over 200 people gathered at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg Beach, on Sunday, with similar beach protests in Hout Bay, Blouberg and V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
Greenpeace Cape Town volunteers group representative Elaine Mills said over 70 protests were carried out, mainly along coastline areas with around 30 organisations involved in the campaign.
Some of these included Oceans Not Oil, The Green Connection, Greenpeace Africa, 350.org, Extinction Rebellion, Clean Seas and Sea The Bigger Picture.
An urgent interdict brought forward by Greenpeace Africa was rejected due to a lack of evidence over the damages that could occur due to the seismic survey. A second application is being sought to halt Shell’s actions and will be heard around mid-December.
“One of the biggest grounds for opposing Shell’s actions is that the public consultation was inadequate, they did not consult the fishing and coastal communities who stand to suffer huge economic losses as a result of Shell destroying the marine heritage,” Mills said.
“The damage is beyond belief. Really, it's unimaginable. The harm that that can do to marine life is permanent hearing loss, organ rupture as dolphins and whales breach too fast to escape the auditory onslaught, and beach strandings,” Mills said.
Colourful posters and protest art pieces and performances made its way through the crowd, painting a sordid picture of the devastation that could occur.
Protester Rochelle McWilliams said funders such as banks should be called out for their involvement in such projects.
University of Cape Town Environmental Health student Aleya Banwari said: “Yes, it will create jobs in the short term. Once Shell leaves, we’re going to be left with the damage to the environment and high rates of unemployment again and we’re going to be in a worse position.”
Banwari said there is also a risk of oil spillages resulting in ocean pollution, subsequently affecting tourism.
“There’s so many renewable alternatives we could be using, it’s just laziness and greed,” Banwari said.