Kalk Bay residents are fuming after a popular formation of rock sculptures on display in the area were taken down by officials from the City of Cape Town.

The sculptures, seen at the Dalebrook tidal poool, were dismantled on Monday morning [June 22] by city staff over safety concerns for the public.

According to the City, the rocks pose a danger to children and cause visual pollution.

The rock sculptures, also known as menhirs, began cropping up at the beginning of lockdown. They were orginally created by a group of locals, including Sipho Njengezi, who told SA People that these rocks were symblic of his life –  it’s about finding balance, falling over and then starting over.

More residents have added to the sculptures during the lockdown period. The rocks gave many purpose, and provided some much needed relaxation and expression during a stressful time.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, said officials requested the rock cairn builders to stop the building activity. When they refused, they dismantled the rock cairns.

Nieuwoudt explained that the City is not in support of the practice of building rock cairns due to the following reasons,
Rock cairns:
– Pose a danger to people, especially children. They have had an incident of a child’s foot being broken by a falling rock from a rock cairn
– Alter the coastline sense of place. The rock cairns at Dalebrook proliferated in number beyond any reasonable amount
– Have been found by scientific research to impact on biodiversity – published academic papers are available
– Cause an ecological disturbance
– Cause visual pollution and can be unsightly.

These rock cairns are also in contravention of the Sea Shore Regulations that state that without the prior written consent of and subject to the conditions imposed by the Council in or on any beach area, no one may:
– erect any construction designed for amusement;
– construct, erect or fix any building or structure of whatsoever nature, or pitch any tent of the like;

They are also in contravention of the newly approved Coastal Bylaw that states no person in the coastal zone may:
– interfere with, impede or restrict a natural dynamic coastal process unless written authorisation is granted by the City;
– prune, harvest or remove vegetation unless reasonably necessary;
– deposit, move, collect or remove sand, pebbles, rocks, shells, shell grit or kelp as per national thresholds and limits, provided that reasonable activity in relation to the listed actions together with the digging of holes by children or beachgoers in the ordinary use or enjoyment of the beach area is not prohibited; or
– interfere with geomorphic processes unless written authorisation is granted by the City.

The City wants to prevent this becoming a common occurrence along the coastline. Signage will be up in due course and they will continue to engage with those who are building the rock cairns.

Picture: Lise Parry

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