The plight of the 324 rate-paying property owners of Hermanus Beach Club (HBC) who have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency is a major reason for despair. The land invasion by thousands of people who have been allowed to erect shacks a few metres from HBC has caused our properties to plummet in value from reasonable to worthless.

The pain of being tossed aside, ignored and treated as worthless rubbish while suffering quality of life and financial losses is unbearable.

We are not without sympathy for the squatters’ plight. But we can’t help feeling that if the land invasion had taken place in one of the affluent areas to the east of Hermanus, the reaction would have been far different. Although none of us who live here are paupers and we do have doctors, accountants and executives in our midst, our area is regarded as expendable.

Many of us have sunk our life’s savings into our properties and live here permanently, having been led to believe that the sale of our investment would fund a retirement village property. We are now, effectively, trapped. We can’t give the units away – no one wants them now.

Apart from the unsightly aesthetic reality and the high probability of the spread of contagious diseases, we are now very vulnerable to criminal elements and dare not stay out beyond sundown. Holiday visitors who have paid for accommodation at HBC, turn around and leave rather than stay in what is now perceived as an undesirable and downright dangerous area – another source of income down the drain.

July is municipal increase month and again our property rates have gone up. Should our mayor not rather reduce our rates to reflect our property values? I wonder if Dudley Coetzee recalls the attack on HBC last year: petrol bombing, car burning, window breaking and wheeling of flaming tyres beneath our boomed entrance by the self-same squatters… Does he?

I think the worst, most soul-destroying aspect of this is that our cries for justice and the application of the laws of the land have fallen on deaf, nay, cowardly ears.

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