Residents tidy seaside towns

The results of working together: the cleaned-up beach 48 hours after flash flood.

The results of working together: the cleaned-up beach 48 hours after flash flood.

Published May 5, 2024


Durban — A community initiative to revitalise KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast seaside towns has helped bring in investors and boost tourism.

In response to the deterioration of towns on the South Coast, residents took matters into their own hands and launched the Tidy Towns initiative across different towns along the coast to restore the area to its former glory.

Tidy Towns Shelly Beach to Margate started in August 2021. Their motto “Clean Makes Clean” soon spread across the South Coast.

South Coast residents clean up a beach after a flash flood.

Stephen Herbst, Tidy Towns Margate driver, said residents worked with the municipality, law enforcement and civic organisations that supported their vision to bring tourism back to the South Coast.

"When we first started it was cleaning up the beaches and enforcing the by-laws. The greatest ally has been the police and building a relationship between the community and the police. Everything that is done by Tidy Towns Shelly Beach to Margate is done on a voluntary basis,” said Herbst.

He said he grew up in Margate and had seen it in its prime when it was a tourism hub and wanted to see that restored.

A walkway in disrepair before getting Tidy Town treatment.

“The concept of leaving it better than we found it prevails. If you clean up and invest in your area, then it will attract more investment and tourism.

“Margate became filthy on the beaches and main streets and bylaws were not enforced. But when you look at the beaches now, like Margate, Uvongo, St Michael’s and Manaba, they are well policed. We don’t tolerate loitering and vagrants. Car guards were part of the crime network so we took a zero car guard approach in Margate and that has spread to Uvongo. We no longer have unregulated and unauthorised car guards. Since this we have seen a drop in crime.

“Businesses have come on board and assisted with funding. We refurbished a number of tidal pools, upgraded public facilities like toilets, water pipe systems, fixed a main arterial road, did beach clean-ups and attended to the beaches after major storms. We fill potholes on the roads,” said Herbst.

The upgraded walkway with a Tidy Town member putting in some final touches.

He said they started with little initiatives like verge challenges in the communities.

“Civic pride is when like-minded people pull together for a common goal. Property values have picked up as well as new major upmarket property developments.

“We’re extremely excited to see a number of luxury eco-estates being established on the South Coast such as the R800-million Serenity Hills and 32-hectare Jabula Lifestyle Estate in Margate, as well as the R15-billion Renishaw Coastal Precinct Hills in Scottburgh. The biggest of these impressive residential estates in the region is the multibillion-rand Bahari Bay eco-estate in Shelly Beach.”

Bahari Bay mountain bike trail

Reg Horne, founder of Tidy Towns, said it started with cleaning up an area where they surfed at St Michael’s beach.

“It was unsafe to park in the car parks because of people posing as car guards but selling drugs. Toilets were filthy and not working.

“We have had a 100% turnaround. We hosted the South African surfing championships, proving that people are coming back. Each beach has its own beauty, like Uvongo’s waterfall.”

Deborah Ludick, acting CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), commended the outstanding work done by Tidy Towns.

Independent on Saturday