Hout Bay was dealt a raw hand this past weekend when the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon was rerouted out of the village, following threats of protest action that didn’t materialise, says a tourism boss.
The village lost its cut of the millions of rand generated by the marathon, according to Enver Duminy, Cape Town Tourism CEO.
“Events like the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon are critical to the region’s economy,” he said.
The Two Oceans, alone, generated more than R675 million based on its 2018 figures, he said.
This year’s figures haven’t been collated yet.
“This event creates thousands of jobs, and raises more than
R3.5 million for the charities that use the marathon as a fund-raising platform,” Mr Duminy said.
The redirection of the race to Ou Kaapseweg, came after the newly formed Hout Bay Leadership Forum (HBLF) said it “couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety” during the marathon if the City of Cape Town didn’t address its grievances over what it said were failed promises to improve housing, services and living conditions in poor communities (“Tensions rise in Hout Bay,” Sentinel News, April 19).
The HBLF’s Roscoe Jacobs called Sentinel’s coverage of the HBLF press conference – held just days before the Two Oceans marathon and three weeks before a national election – “a disgrace” and an attempt to push a “swart gevaar tactic”.
Mr Jacobs, an ANC Youth League member, was unhappy that the Sentinel drew attention to the HBLF members’ ANC and EFF affiliations.
“When sitting there at the press conference, we didn’t represent our political parties, but it seems this is not something you heard. I was there as a community activist and leader not as an ANCYL member… your article is deligitmising our struggle and portraying it as a party political struggle and not a people and human struggle,” he said in a Facebook message to this reporter.
He accused the Sentinel of being “a newspaper for white people and their interest”.
Mr Duminy said unrest could hurt Cape Town’s tourism economy.
“Last year, Cape Town was voted the world’s top host city for events and festivals, so it’s essential that we maintain and build on this reputation.
“We understand the need to safeguard locals and visitors along the route. However any disturbances to our premier events can potentially have a damaging knock-on effect on tourism – especially when routes such as these are altered at the last minute.
“The months of planning done by tourism operators and retail outlets can be negatively affected.”
Bay Harbour Market spokeswoman Carly Stovell said the rerouting had dealt them a terrible blow.
“We had been terribly affected as Saturday ended up being extremely quiet – normally, the race drives a lot of trade our way and it is always a highlight on our calendar.
“Usually,w the local supporters and cheerleaders head to market afterwards, and the festivities continue. But sadly not this year.”
Hout Bay ward councillor Roberto Quintas also expressed his regret about the rerouting.
“Thousands of jobs in Cape Town rely on tourism and local and international investment. Hout Bay, particularly, provides hundreds of jobs in the Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg communities via this vital industry.”
Mr Quintas said the incident was not only sad for Hout Bay but for the rule of law as well.
“The actions of a few, hellbent on meting out violence and chaos, resulted in the SAPS advising last moment alterations to a meticulously planned event. (During negotiations) while the City tried to ensure an unequivocal assurance of non-violence, the advice from SAPS was to alter the route, thereby causing several fringe events and races to be outright cancelled.”
Mr Quintas appealed to all Hout Bay residents to band together rather than break down infrastructure.
“When infrastructure is threatened, services and the improvement of lives stops. When investment and interest in Hout Bay as a destination dwindles, so will jobs.
“Hout Bay residents from all communities should no longer have to tolerate the instability and disruptions being threatened and played out in our streets, and should no longer live in fear or live at risk of job losses and disrupted services.”
While tensions and threats of protests in the area have cooled down, negotiations between the HBLF and City continue.
Through correspondence with HBLF members, the Sentinel News was told the group would meet this week to “discuss the way forward”.
According to the City of Cape Town’s Lyndon Khan, Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, met with the HBLF last week, and negotiations are ongoing.
“After his first meeting with Hout Bay leadership, Mr Booi went to the area again on Good Friday to give feedback to the broader community, as requested by the leadership. Engagements will continue.”
Mr Quintas, told the Sentinel News that City officials would be meeting with the HBLF, and engaging both the Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu communities on some of their “separate grievances toward the very end of the month”.
“Mr Booi made the commitment to address the Hangberg Housing Steering Committee before month end as well as the IY community on several of their issues.”
The HBLF’s Lee Smith said the City was “becoming active” in tackling issues in Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg following the rerouting of the Two Oceans. Opinion, he said, was “divided” over whether the shutdown had been the right approach.
It was “unfortunate that revenue has been lost”, but the poor believed housing was more important than the race’s “revenue stream”, especially ahead of winter, he said. The HBLF understood protest action could be “scary” but it was a way for the marginalised to be heard. Decisions to protest were “not taken lightly”, he said but “if forced to do so” the HBLF would not hesitate to do it for the good of future generations.