Sand sculptors balk at permit fees

The government should support people like me who are doing honest work.

Talented artists who create sand sculptures on eThekwini beaches have to pay an annual permit fee of over R500 to continue spreading joy through their masterpieces.

eThekwini head of communications, Tozi Mthethwa said sand sculptors fall under coastal areas informal trading management since 2010.

“Since then sculptors have been paying for permits, which is R44 per month and R528 for a year. They are charged as per the informal trade tariffs passed by eThekwini Municipality and guided by the informal trade policy.

Currently most of the sand sculptors’ permits have expired. Municipal officials met with them last week to remind them about updating their payments.”

Michael Mofekeng, who has been beautifying Toti main beach with his amazing sculptures since 2003, said he was informed by municipal officials he needs a permit on Wednesday, 27 May, but he will battle to afford the permit fee.

“That is a lot of money for me to pay,” said the 38-year-old artist, who supports two children.

He travels from Mayville to Toti nearly every day, at considerable expense, to look after and touch up his art pieces.

He relies solely on tips and is lucky to make between R40 and R70 a day.

“Out of season is even more quiet and I don’t make close to that,” said Michael, who learnt his trade from Durban beachfront sculptors.

“When I first started in Toti the tourism office would support me when the holidays finished. I don’t have any other job. The people tell me they appreciate what I do and children love seeing the animal sculptures. Why doesn’t the municipality pay us for making the place beautiful like the parks department?

Now the municipality says if I don’t have a permit, I must break down my sculptures.

The government should support people like me who are doing honest work.”

Vice-chairman of Sapphire Coast Toti Tourism, Kim McCarthy welcomed the permit system, as it has been in place to combat crime on eThekwini beaches.

“We welcome artistry in every form to our shores, however, we also support our municipal bylaws, without which, our shores would be inundated with more squatters sleeping on our beaches than there already are.

From our understanding, the municipality received complaints from the public sector that sand artists and informal traders were committing acts of crime against tourists and local businesses under their guise, which resulted in business support being instructed to implement the permit system.

A low fee of only R10 would simply continue to enable the perpetrators of crime.”

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