'Ex-28s boss' nets fishing permit
Former Cape Flats 28s gang boss Ernie “Lastig” Solomon is one of 100 people who at the end of last year were controversially allocated line fishing rights, a process which is now being probed by the office of the Public Protector.
Solomon's name appears on the list of beneficiaries which was published on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' (DAFF) website on December 30, 2013.
Considered one of the Western Cape's “highflyer” gang bosses in the 1990s, state prosecutors have tried, and failed numerous times to convict Solomon of any gang-related crimes. He had left the Cape Flats, and moved to Hawston where he was alleged to have been the kingpin of an abalone poaching operation.
Solomon did not respond to calls and text messages seeking his comment.
DA spokesman on fisheries Pieter van Dalen said Solomon was not the only controversial name on the list of new beneficiaries, who were handed line fishing rights.
Chad Nash, a DAFF employee who also captains the Lilian Ngoyi patrol vessel, is also one of those who have been allocated fishing rights.
“He's supposed to patrol our waters, to ensure that there's no poaching. But with this allocation, it means that he's now a player and a referee,” says Van Dalen.
He also pointed to the Marthinus family, six of whom received fishing rights allocations. They are all related to the Aghulas Municipality's Speaker, and ANC member Eve Marthinus.
Marthinus confirmed that all the six were members of her husband's family. Interestingly husband and wife, Timmy and Charlene Marthinus were both handed line fishing rights.
Fisheries expert Shaheen Moola complained that 80 of the 100 new entrants did not have boats to go to sea, and said that many of those who were awarded the rights were either employed full-time or held other business interests.
“One of the key criteria was that those who applied for the rights had to be reliant on linefishing for an income. If that was the case, how did some of these people get granted the seven year rights?” asked Moola.
Secretary of the SA Traditional Line Fishing Association, Bruce Logan, said most of the 100 new entrants were unknown.
“The problem is: Of the 220 linefishing rights which were issued, 80 of them were issued to small-scale fishers.
“He can only support himself and one crew [member]. We've been saying they should instead be given subsistence permits,” said Logan.
He complained that many of the new entrants had no boats, and didn't know “the difference between misbanker and a kingklip”.
“You just don't go buy a boat and that makes you a fisherman. I'm all for transformation but we've got to know how they were scored,” said Logan.
Acting Fisheries deputy director general Desmond Stevens declined to comment.
In an earlier press statement, Stevens said the department welcomed any scrutiny from the Public Protector but blamed the media, saying they had “peddled lies” over the process of awarding the rights.
Earlier this week DAFF gave interim relief to fishers who had lost out on the rights allocation, giving them two month reprieve while their applications to be re-considered.