UNLAWFUL HOLIDAY CAMP DEMOLISHED

YET another illegal holiday camp built on KwaZulu-Natal's treasured World Heritage Site - the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park - has been demolished.

YET another illegal holiday camp built on KwaZulu-Natal's treasured World Heritage Site - the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park - has been demolished.

This time the illegal establishment had been erected by Madolwane Mthembu and Simon Tembe, two prominent Zululand businessmen known as the "Tembe Brothers".

After ignoring a previous court order to demolish the holiday camp built on Bhanga Nek Beach Camp in the Coastal Forest Reserve (CFR), the "Tembe Brothers" were told by high court Judge Chris Nicholson that "no one is above the law".

The CFR section of park stretches from Sodwana Bay to the Mozambican border and is the only place in South Africa where all five mangrove species grow.

On Tuesday bulldozers, summoned jointly by the iSimangaliso Wetland Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the police, moved in to demolish the illegal structure.

Chairman of the iSimangaliso board Mavuso Msimang said: "Demolition was thelast resort. This follows years and years of warnings, written and verbal.

"We would be failing in our duty to the people of South Africa and our international World Heritage Convention commitments had we not acted to stop thisdevelopment."

Msimang said that three other commercial developments - the iNkwazi Resort, Bronkhorst site and Joubert Resort - had already been demolished in accordance with high court orders.

"We are mandated to deliver meaningful benefits to neighbouring communities, where more than 70000 people live.

"We have begun to focus on this northern part of the park to open up this unique area for increased eco-tourism and the positive ripple effects on the local economy.

"Unauthorised and ecologically unsustainable developments, where the benefits accrue to a few businessmen, threaten sustainable development and tourism," he said.

iSimangaliso chief executive Andrew Zaloumis and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife chief executive Bandile Mkhize agreed: "These developments were all within an extremely ecologically sensitive area of the CFR and could have threatened the Kosi Bay lake system."

The CFR section of iSimangaliso, according to Zaloumis, contains marine, terrestrial, estuarine and fresh water ecosystems with an extremely high biodiversity and many endemic species of fauna and flora.

"Distinctive habitats include the sea turtle nesting beaches - the only site in Africa receiving significant protection," Zaloumis said.

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