Kalk Bay residents and Khoi decry Brass Bell expansion on beach

Kalk Bay residents and Khoi protest against the Brass Bell restaurant expansion. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Kalk Bay residents and Khoi protest against the Brass Bell restaurant expansion. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Published Apr 3, 2022


Kalk Bay residents and apparent representatives of indigenous people protested against the alleged illegal expansion of the popular Brass Bell restaurant

More than 100 people staged a protest outside the restaurant to object against planned construction that would further restrict access to a tidal pool.

Owner of the restaurant, Tony White, had already begun construction of a deck in the area next to the tidal pool. Excavated holes, some filled with cement, were seen in the area.

Protesters included people who said they were Khoi and San and held up signs that read: “People before profits”, “You can’t own God’s world”, “Give back the beach” and “Tidal pools are a heritage for all”.

A statement released by activists Faez Poggenpoel and Traci Kwaai said they were against the alleged illegal land usage by the establishment’s owner on land belonging to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

“For over 50 years, the restaurant has continued to build illegally on land owned by Prasa, extending its footprint to cover the public beach and restricting access to public pools,” read their statement.

“The Kalk Bay pools were built by the indigenous people in the area to use as fish traps since settlers first moved into this area in the 1700s.”

Kwaai, who claimed to be a sixth-generation Kalk Bay resident, said White had already used up land that used to be part of the beachfront over the years.

“We want to hold the City of Cape Town accountable and to hear what their plans are because these structures need to be removed, we want our land back,” she said.

Kwaai said she wants to be able to bring her family to the beach and relax at the tidal pool. Beachgoers wanting access to the pools must go through the restaurant.

“We can’t do that anymore. My great-great-grandparents got married in 1846, living in Kalk Bay. I want to be able to enjoy everything they had back then, with my family.”

Poggenpoel said he was a fifth-generation fisherman from the area and was fighting to protect their rights.

“White is well off and past retirement and yet he has the insatiable hunger for more. No one can understand his greed and this has gone too far now.”

Poggenpoel said residents had discussed means of preserving Kalk Bay’s multicultural diversity.

“We demand the City and Prasa urgently address this issue. We need a new memorandum of understanding where the City ensures that all illegal structures are removed from the beach. We want to see what the City is doing to protect this sacred heritage area.”

Bishop Geoffrey Davies, a former rector of the Anglican church in the late 1970s, said Kalk Bay had evolved over the years.

“White owns a lot of property here. He is gentrifying public spaces. Only rich people can come here and that’s not what Kalk Bay is,” he said.

“We want White to take down these decks so we can enjoy the pools. We want him to stop building more developments on the main street.”

The City’s deputy mayor, Eddie Andrews, said: “The land belongs to Prasa with the said business having a lease agreement with Prasa for parts of the erf.

“On Wednesday, we went on-site with a representative from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and the Oceans and Coasts’ Environmental Compliance. Prasa provided written instruction to their lessee to cease all construction activities. This matter is being dealt with.”

Andrews said according to the coastal by-laws, the public’s right to access coastlines, public amenities and historical access was protected.

“Number 18 of the coastal by-law says unless the City grants written authorisation, no person may block or impede coastal access land or damage or deface infrastructure relating to coastal access land.”

When approached for comment, the restaurant said White was unavailable.

A manager at the restaurant who did not want to be named said while she did not speak on behalf of the owner, the restaurant staff had never stopped the public from using public land.

“I know that there were plans to build a deck over a small area. It was not more than 1m by 2m,” she said.

The restaurant’s head chef, Jean-Pierre Nortier, said the restaurant provided water for the public to shower after using the tidal pools.

“We get charged for that. We also give them a discount on coffee after they’ve swam. We keep the pool tidy and remove the seaweed and plastic,” he said.

“We haven’t charged anyone for any of that. Yes, the property is owned by Prasa, but all maintenance is seen to by the owner out of his pocket. We don’t chase anyone away from any of the public areas.

“Access to the harbour and tidal pools is open all the time.”

Prasa said it had no comment.