R-160411. Herbalist Xoma Aob who lives Hangberg and has planted a vegetable garden at Sentinel Primary school doesn’t believe the fishy stench from the Lucky Star factory, a division of Oceana Brands, is harmful to health. The factory with its four smoke stacks can be seen in the background. Reporter: Helen Bamford. Pic. Jason Boud

Cape Town - The stench from a fishmeal factory operating in Hout Bay harbour is dividing the community, with some saying no one should have to live with the rotten, gag-inducing smell – while others are saying the factory provides much-needed jobs.

Resident Ike Moriz, who has been collecting affidavits on how the stench affects people’s businesses, health and well-being, said complaints were coming from all over Hout Bay, including Hangberg.

“We want to make sure that all parties are considered and a solution found that works for everyone because no one should have to live like this.”

The smell was particularly bad over the weekend and was still strong when the Cape Argus visited the area on Monday.

A resident, in a letter to the editor, said: “From April 8 till April 11, the foul smells which were periodically released from the plant, into the atmosphere, were unbearably sickening. Clearly nothing has been done to fix the ‘smell’ problem.”

Oceana spokeswoman Pamela Manda said the Oceana Group would not comment and information could be gathered from the website, which says that an upgraded chemical scrubber would be installed in the last quarter of this year and would only be operational in the 2017 fishing year.

It also said it may “potentially be more efficient, but could not completely eliminate the smells associated with fishmeal”.

Ivan van Wyk, a truancy officer at the Sentinel Primary School, said it was a sensitive subject because people in Hangberg had family who worked at the factory.

“When the smell comes people say, ‘there is bread on the table’. So many livelihoods are connected to this factory.”

But he agreed it would be beneficial to everyone if they could find a solution to help dampen the smell because it wasn’t helpful to the economy if tourists fled the suburb.

Herbalist Xoma Aob, whose eco-friendly “light house” on the slopes of Hangberg is an attraction for tourists, said he watched many of them cover their faces from the smell, but doesn’t believe it has a detrimental effect.

He grows and sells an array of vegetables and seedlings and says neither they nor his animals had been affected by the smoke.

“I have inhaled it as well and have never had asthma or any lung infections.”

Aob said most of the complainants were not from South Africa: “Many came in the past 20 years. They arrive as tourists and then suddenly become land owners. But the locals have been living with it for years.”

Roscoe Jacobs, secretary of the Hout Bay Civic Association, said there were so many more pertinent issues affecting the area.

“We have so much unemployment and people who don’t even have food to put on the table.”

[email protected]

Cape Argus