Hout Bay seal rescue centre fears eviction
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Cape Town – The Hout Bay Seal Rescue Centre says they are at their wits’ end, with fears they may be potentially evicted after the Department of Public Works (DPW) “indicated” they will be putting up the centre for tender.
The centre rehabilitates and releases stranded, injured or distressed Cape fur seal pups which have been rescued by volunteers.
Its administration and fund-raising director, Kim Krynauw, said they had a long-standing agreement with the Oceana Group to use part of the lots; however, in February, Oceana said it was cancelling its lease as it was letting go of some of the lots.
Krynauw said they have since requested a standalone lease from the DPW, but they have not received a response.
“Public Works indicated that they will be putting our centre, which is lot 25, out to tender. We have told them the centre has been there for 23 years and we do not have the capacity to bid against wealthy corporations or individuals.
“We have told them this over and over, and they simply ignore our request which is to give us a standalone lease so we can continue our relationship with Oceana.
“We are the only centre of its kind in the whole of South Africa so our question is why and what will happen to our seals still in rehabilitation and the animals that have lived there for 23 years?
’’We cannot lose this property, and the staff depend on the centre for their livelihoods. So we are begging and pleading for a solution,” she said.
DPW spokesperson Zara Nicholson said the department was currently finalising its internal processes.
“All state-owned properties vacant and with expired leases should be advertised. Current occupants are also encouraged to re-apply.”
The centre’s manager, Amos Eliam Lipenga, said the animals would suffer the most.
“I feel bad, not for me, but for the animals, because there will be no place here in South Africa to do seal rescue and rehabilitation. We don't know what we are going to do. We are just asking Public Works to consider us and give us space,” he said.
Hout Bay ward-councillor Roberto Quintas said the centre was finding it increasingly difficult to get a response from the department.
“Personally, as the ward councillor for Hout Bay, I know exactly the type of work they are doing and how meaningful and important it is.
’’It would be an absolute travesty that the department is not giving them any certainty and security on what their future may be,” he said.