Weekend Argus, Pg 6, 24
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
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
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
“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.
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.