Paradise Spoilt


We Durbanites are very predictable. Faced with someone raving about how beeyootiful Cape Town is, many of us will trot out the tired old line: “Yes, but the sea is just for show – the water’s so bloody cold you can’t swim in it.  Now in Durban we can swim in the sea all year round..!”

Durban Beach last week - when I did have my camera - and immediately after the cleaners had been through...
Durban Beach last week - when I did have my camera - and immediately after the cleaners had been through...

Of course, most of the people who say that probably haven’t had their toes in the Indian Ocean for years, but it makes them feel better.

With the SAPS (SA Police Services) men and women having recently chosen Greyville racecourse as their training ground, as part of new top cop Bheki Cele’s mission to get them in shape, I now take my two dogs down to the beach for a run in the mornings instead, after I’ve dropped the kids at school. I park at Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club, alongside Suncoast Casino, then hit the sand and head north towards Blue Lagoon. The beach is near deserted at that time, bar the odd jogger, and some serious sand moving equipment as part of the massive pre-2010 World Cup beachfront revamp which is underway.

I must confess to ignoring the “no dogs” signs because I figure they’re disturbing no-one at that time, and I pick up after them. Watching the two of them tearing along the water’s edge and dodging the waves is amazing therapy, as are the gorgeous vistas. Where else in the world would I have this almost all to myself every morning?

Just one thing mars the sublime experience – litter. Polystyrene containers, chip packets, paint buckets, cooldrink bottles, most of it left within throwing distance of the many bins. This morning there were even two dead sacrificial chickens left on the sand.

If only it always looked like this...taken a week ago after the cleaners had removed litter, packets and the odd dead chicken or two.
If only it always looked like this...taken a week ago after the cleaners had removed litter, packets and the odd dead chicken or two.

One of the things I love about Durban is its rich cultural mix, but I can’t say I delighted in the sight of those dead birds. If I’d had my camera with me, I could have captured the corpses and the glorious Moses Mabhida soccer stadium in the same shot. Maybe next time. The Durban Solid Waste team does an incredible job of cleaning up the beach, but they can’t be everywhere, 24 hours a day.

I find it terribly depressing that in almost 2010, we’re mostly a nation of litterers. Selfish, immature individuals simply drop their trash wherever it pleases them, some offering the absurd justification that this provides work for people. Well, here’s a thought – we’d have a more thriving tourism industry in this city if we didn’t have our Dirty Durbs reputation, and that would create heaps more jobs.

How are we ever going to embrace green initiatives such as conserving energy and recycling when so many among us have so little regard for the environment that littering is considered okay?


  1. As an (ex) Durbanite – I spent the first 50 years of my life there, I have to agree that Durbs is great. However after leaving Durbs in 1989, I became a Kaapenaar living in George and that is is also beautiful! I guess home is where the heart is?

    Have been living in the USA – about 30 miles outside Philadelphia for the last 12 years. Litter is a universal problem, at least here in the US there are anti-litter laws. One can be fined up to $300.00 for littering on a highway for instance. Not sure how that could be enforced in SA though.

    The new stadium looks stunning, although not particularly enamoured of the name.

  2. Hey there Wendy,

    You may not remember me but I will never forget you – as a young, fiesty and very good court reporter. I was a Public Prosecutor at the time! There was a story that you wanted to get to and I held a trial in camera to protect a high profile individual in a DUI case! REMEMBER!

    Crazy that I happened to get an e-mail from SA Reunited and you were one of the bloggers! Crazy small world! Super blog by the way! I miss the Durban I knew and have been in the US for 15 years now!

    Anyway great to see you have done so brilliantly and have a super family too!

    Take care and kind regards over the Season!
    Ivor Fisher

  3. Hi Wendy.
    Take a stroll North from Pirates past the Casino along their walkway to the carpark alongside the beach. Rather put your dogs onto leashes as you wouldn’t want them stepping on all the human excrement – maybe wear a mask and snorkel as you might end up gasping for a bit of air too ……. !!!
    Nothing in life is for free (except the air that we breathe for now) so charge R5 per person to use the beaches and to help keep it clean by placing porta-loos along the way.

  4. That;s a real shame about the spoilt beaches.
    I am a joburg gril. We are the only South african gypsy family. I have been living in cold, dark miserable London for 7yrs. Ag I am just complaning because you in SA are all warm and we are Freeeeezing…humbug.
    I went to University in Leeds and discovered that Leeds’s sister city is Dirban.

    I am planning a London, Leeds, Durban youth event link up in 2011.
    It includes beach volley ball, video and computer sports games.
    Sustainability talks.
    Music, Art and Dance productions.
    I will link with Soul of africa hopefully to clear Landmines in Africa…it is a genuine problem.

    is their support from the council? Tourism?
    Do Joburg people still come to Durban over June…the date is week end of 17th June 2011…school holiday in SA.
    As I am linking Universities and families timing is crusical…getting UK and SA correct is hard..

    I am keen to open doors of communications with anyone that want to get involved and that could possibly help.

    Much Love

    Mess and all..seriously Home sick..:(