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Weekend Argus, Pg 6, 24 November 2002

Plan to unveil ‘real’ Hawston

There’s more going on in our village than the perlemoen war, say fed-up residents

Jean Le May

The people of Hawston, on the south coast, are “sick and tired” of their village being described as a stamping-ground for druglords, gangsters and poachers.
Such is the perception, that Western Cape premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk cancelled a visit to Hawston this week and visited nearby Hermanus instead. He was warned that it was too dangerous to go to Hawston where he had planned to gain first-hand information on perlemoen poaching.
In order to clean up their village’s image, a group are getting together to develop a R50 million Abalone Tourism village.
“There’s more going on in Hawston than the perlemoen (abalone) war,” said tour operator John Carolissen. “People don’t know the real Hawston. They see road-signs as they flash past… and think: danger from poachers, keep away”.
The idea of promoting Hawston originated with Edwin Arrison, rector of St Andrew’s Anglican Church, and his church council. He roped in other churches, business figures and the Anglican Church’s social development arm HOPE AFRICA, and Cape Town’s Foundation for Contemporary Research. Post-graduate students in tourism from the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch have also become involved.
“We are very excited about the project which is quite at an advanced stage,” said Arrison. “We have regular meetings with the Industrial Development Corporation, which is setting up a development agency for the Overstrand area. There are plenty of donors interested in the Abalone Village.”
Asked if Hawston’s reputation had not discouraged the planners, Arrison said: “On the contrary, it provided an incentive. There is huge unemployment here and development could provide jobs for people who would otherwise drift into the cluthes of the criminals.”
The idea is to transform run-down camping sites in Hawston into a tourism village with an upgraded camping and caravan park and to construct bungalows. There will be a retail sector with cafes and restaurants, shops and boutiques for locally-made clothing and crafts. The sportsfields and swimming pool will be upgraded, and there will be a recreation hall to serve the whole community.
Cape Town architect Etienne Bruwer, who drew up a development plan for the village, said a planned “day-tripper zone” could accommodate 1500 people.
“Many people think Hermanus when they plan a day’s outing from Cape Town,” he said. “We want them to think Hawston. We are not going for the luxury trade catered for in Hermanus. Somebody has already approached us to run a specialized fishing-tackle shop. We want to revive the cooking skills that Hawston was famous for. It used to be a great vegetable-growing area and as for kreef and perlemoen – Hawston was known as the koskas (food cupboard). Have you had perlemoen pie? It’s an old Hawston speciality.”
Hawston was declared a “coloured rural area” under apartheid laws and was very poor.
“Most people are in fishery-related industries, the service sector and construction. Hawston has gained an unfortunate reputation as a hotbed of poaching and smuggling. We want to change all that.”
A Section 21 non-profit company has been formed and eight local people serve on the board. The Western Cape department of tourism appointed KPMG to do a feasibility study and the University of Stellenbosch is involved in a full skills audit. The Integrated Development Plan has the project on its books for 2002 – 2006.


The Argus

Theresa Smith, Staff reporter.

MENTION Hawston to people and some will say “poachers” while others say “Sonesta”.
The poaching connotation comes from the many extensively reported gang fights over who gets to poach perlemoen and crayfish in the area.
Sonesta, as immortalized by local jazzman Errol Dyers, was one of the few provincial holiday resorts that coloured people were allowed to frequent in the 1970s and 1980s.
A generation of children grew up safe in the knowledge that they knew exactly what they were going to do for the holidays – wade in the lagoon, roll down the sand dunes and play Pacman in the recreational hall.
The holiday resort was sold in 1992 and the land is now being developed as a residential area called Meerensee.
A long time ago the Hawston area was known as “die koskas” – famous for its vegetable gardens and perlemoen.
Today, there are very few vegetables, lots of sand and the perlemoen has almost been dived out of existence.
Hawston is mainly a coloured community with a strong Anglican presence and a vibrant Griqua community.
The social development arm of the Anglican church has decided to get involved with the administration of and fundraising for a project called the Hawston Abalone Village.
Before you reach the harbour at the end of Beach Road, the Hawston Beach resort on the right has an Olympic-size swimming pool and not much else.
Part of the project is to incorporate the neglected resort area into the Abalone Village and build a retail and educational center where visitors can learn about the environment and marine life. The project will also include chalets and an upgraded camping and caravan park.
The Overstrand Integrated Development Plan has the project on its books, and building is due to begin within the next three years.
You can see more whales from Hawston’s pristine beach than from Hermanus during whale season.
Looking at the old harbour you would be forgiven for thinking that time has stood still because it hasn’t changed much in 40 years. But the new business corner in the library is very modern indeed.
Despite the negative perception of the area, some local residents have decided to take the initiative and spruce up their homes and gardens.
Some of the homes in the older parts of Hawston are beautifully built and would not look out of place in the up-market suburbs of Hermanus.
There is also a new RDP housing section with several surprisingly large and well-appointed mansions, out of place among the tiny neighbouring cinder block houses.





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