News & Events


Small-scale fisherman Celimpilo Mdluli

On the night of Wednesday 16 September 2020, three fishers from the small scale fishing community co-operative in Nibela, near St. Lucia on the edge of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, went fishing in St Lucia lake. One of the fishers, Celimpilo Mdluli (30 years old), was shot dead, and a second fisher was shot above the knee. This killing of a young man, fishing to put food on the table for his family, is the latest in a deeply troubled history of conflict and violent harassment of small scale fishers by conservation officials working for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Heritage Authority. For years, the fishers of Nibela have fought for their rights to fish in their ancestral fishing grounds.

In the words of Mr. Thomas Nkuna, fisher leader and local chairperson of the fisher organisation Coastal Links: “everyone in Nibela depends on fishing. At Nibela there is not any kind of income that anyone can have there –the majority of people are living by fishing. We can call Nibela a fishing village. People from Nibela live through fishing. People who are now schooled, it’s because of the fishing”.

In 2016, the Nibela community applied to the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for recognition as a small scale fishing community. In 2019 the small scale fisheries sector was launched in KZN. 106 fishers from Nibela were recognised and registered as a co-operative, and given rights to fish under South Africa’s Small-Scale Fisheries policy of 2012. Celimpilo Mdluli was one of the fishers included on the kwaNibela fisheries co-operative list. However, since the rights were allocated, there has been a lack of clarity regarding where fishers may fish, what fish may be harvested, and what gear may be used.

Despite the legal recognition by DEFF of their right to fish, the Nibela fishers (and many other small scale and subsistence fishers around the country) have faced ongoing violent harassment by conservation authorities and law enforcement officials. The Nibela fishers have complained and requested assistance repeatedly since 2017 to the Minister and the portfolio committee about being harassed by rangers inside the St Lucia heritage site.

Below is an extract of a letter from the Nibela community to the then Ministers of DAFF and DEA in 2017:

“Our ancestors settled this land around the lake and we have been fishing in the lake, feeding our families here and depending on the lake for food and for incema. We have been doing this for hundreds of years yet now we find ourselves harassed by iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo rangers who chase us away and who prevent us from feeding our families. Instead of respecting our customary system of governance and our customary law we find that they harass us“.

The lack of clear and co-ordinated communication between DEFF, iSimangaliso, Ezemvelo Wildlife and the small scale fishers regarding access of small scale fishers to protected areas has had deadly consequences in this instance. The weaponised policing of conservation areas, in the name of biodiversity protection, has led to the killing of a person who believed, and had been told by DEFF, that he had the right to fish where he was fishing.

The conservation authorities responsible will try to tell a story about dangerous illegal poachers. But Celimpilo Mdluli’s killing is a symptom of larger systemic injustices in the implementation of Marine Protected Areas, that violently exclude local people from the land and coast that is integral to their heritage and livelihoods.

The rangers and their actions are the direct result of a top-down, compliance centered approach to conservation. The responsibility for this lies at a high level within DEFF and the various conservation agencies, in terms of the lack of cooperative governance with regards to small scale fishers, a systematic failure to consider the social impacts of marine protected areas, and a very narrow interpretation of ‘sustainability’ that criminalizes customary coastal users.

As a coalition of civil society and researchers, we call for Justice for Celimpilo Mdluli, and for an immediate investigation into killing, as well as a broader process of restitution and healing around the conflict and exclusion perpetuated by Marine Protected Areas on coastal communities in South Africa.

Signed by: Coastal Justice Network South Africa; South African Small-Scale Fisheries Collective -The Collective; Chascavu Fishing Primary Co-operative; Koukamma Fishing Primary Co-operative; Sarah Baartman Fishing Primary Co-operative; KZN Subsistence Fishers Forum; Coastal Links Langebaan; Eastern Cape Black Fishers Co-operative; South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA); Masifundise Development Trust; Green Connection; Environmental Monitoring Group; Prof. Moenieba Isaacs; Tsele Nthane; Centre for Environmental Rights (CER); Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA); Natural Justice Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS); GroundWork; WoMin

News & Events


Civil society recently celebrated a win when SLR Consulting, on behalf of Total E&P South Africa (TEPSA), granted respondents a 30-day extension to comment on the Draft Scoping Report for further oil exploration and drilling in Block 11B/12B, along the country’s South coast. The NGO The Green Connection and its partners recently attended a severely flawed public participation process, staging a virtual walk-out protest of the proceedings.

“At a time when South Africans are preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, procedurally fair public participation will be a major challenge. We are also concerned about the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process being conducted during this time, especially since no open public meetings are allowed,” says The Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid

According to McDaid, “Millions of South Africans could potentially be affected by the decisions taken by TEPSA and the government. Talking to a handful of people cannot be considered, by any stretch, to equal meaningful public participation. We understand that the lockdown has made things more complicated, but that does not mean that proper processes do not have to be followed. These actions could have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts, and should therefore, not be rushed.”

In a letter to SLR, PetroleumSA and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, The Green Connection points out that the Draft Scoping Report – a complex and information-heavy document –needs more time for comment. “The stakes are very high for the potentially-affected environment, and the project, which is already quite controversial, requires expert input, which will take time.

In addition to the unreasonable timelines, there have also been other issues. This includes the use of commercial newspapers and digital access to information, rather than using media – such as radio advertisements, local notices and hard copies of the EIA documentation in public spaces – that are more accessible to the affected communities.

“It seems that no efforts have been made to notify or provide information to historically disadvantaged communities and subsistence fishers living along the affected coastline. Yet, these are the people who would mostly be affected by any catastrophic incident, such as a wellhead blowout.

McDaid says that The Green Connection seeks a postponement of the entire EIA process, at least until the lockdown restrictions are lifted, or until such time as effective notice and meaningful opportunities for public participation are afforded to historically disadvantaged communities and subsistence fishers living along the Southern Cape coast.

For any media queries, please contact Natasha on

News & Events


This World Ocean Day, fishing communities from around the country are calling on government to commit to legitimising the sector, as a matter of urgency, to protect the livelihoods of coastal communities who have been dependent on the ocean for generations. While the recent lift in lockdown restrictions on fishers from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishing (DEFF) is a welcome change, the issues experienced by South Africa’s small-scale fishers during this period, exposed a number of serious threats to their way of life.

According to Liziwe McDaid from the Green Connection – a NGO working with coastal communities to further empower them to protect our oceans, as part of its new Ocean Protection Campaign Who Stole Our Oceans? – fisher communities in Langebaan in the Western Cape and in Port St. Johns and Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape all experienced a host of challenges during the lockdown. This included being harassed by the military and police services, even with government permission to fish.

McDaid says, “While our initial focus is on protecting the oceans and raising awareness amongst coastal communities, including rights of small-scale subsistence fishers, from abuses by the Oil and Gas industries, the situation under lockdown was too dire to ignore. In all our conversations with fisher communities around the country, one of the key issues that came up over and over again, was that government took away their independence – that is, their ability to fish, for food or for sale – to make them dependent on insufficient and inconsistent hand-outs.”

Ntsindiso Nongcavu of Coastal Links in Port St Johns says, “To me the ocean means to be free and independent. It feels good that I am able to fish to feed myself and my family. This way I have dignity. I do not have to beg from anyone to put food on the table. And, when we work together as a community, sharing our catches or harvests, then we have a variety of seafood to choose from and everyone eats well. And, if everyone takes responsibility, through fishing we can also improve our local economy.”

“I come from a fishing family,” says Nongcavu. “Our family has been able to thrive, through fishing. While the methods of fishing may have changed over the years, our ability to be independent and live and make a living from the ocean, has not changed. Growing up, I remember, we did not have to buy too many things except what we could not produce those ourselves. That is our way of life, we live by doing things for ourselves, we don’t want to be dependent on others, and we want to live the way we have been and protect this place. We have been reliant on the ocean for many years.”

Phindile Phikani, also from Coastal Links in Port St. Johns says, “The first challenge was being locked-up at home, prohibited from fishing – our livelihood – and being told to wait for government assistance, which never arrives. In the rural areas especially, we are out of reach from government. This lack of support from government has led to other challenges, such as not being able to register our cooperatives. This meant that we could not fish, and many families in our community had to suffer with hunger, because of this.”

In other places like game reserves, fishers are caught no matter the documentation they carry. They are told that they are not permitted to enter due to lockdown. In Port Alfred, the South African Police Services (SAPS) even confiscated some fishers fishing equipment. Even though we asked for support from DEFF, no assistance was received. This only increased our troubles, because people were apprehended while trying to (legally) provide for their families,” adds Phikani. 

Solene Smit, a fisherwoman from Langebaan, Chair of the regional branch of Coastal Links says that since small-scale fishers do not belong to a sector, there are no policies in place to govern the sector, and was a key reason that the Covid-19 lockdown was unnecessarily difficult for many local fishermen around the country.

“Imagine the stress for our communities when, with government permission to fish, members of the military abused our people and refused to let them fish. While we did have a session with Minister Barbara Creecy, during this period, far too many of our issues remained unresolved. Not only did they not give us sufficient information, DEFF offered no support to assist with the imminent issues we face,” says Smit.   

Smit adds, “Our community did receive a once-off delivery of food parcels handed out during lockdown, while neighbouring towns continued to receive food parcels. What I do not understand is why the government took away our ability to fish, and therefore at least feed our families. Why did they want to make us dependent on handouts?”

Hilda Adams (based in Langebaan) from the umbrella movement, the SA Small Scale Fishers Collective says that local fishing communities were terribly unprepared for the lockdown, and that bureaucratic red tape – which affects much of the lives of our communities – have created even more issues.

“We could fish during lockdown, if you had a permit. But, to get this, fishers needed to travel far and needed to arrange for accommodation, and these places were all closed and people ended up with no permits during this period.”

For more information, contact Natasha on

Who We Are

Liz McDaid

Liz is a qualified scientist, teacher, and adult educator, with a Master’s Degree in Climate Change and Development from the University of Cape Town. As an independent environmentalist, she has worked for over 25 years at the energy/poverty/community nexus, with a focus on participative, ethical governance. She has coordinated, led and supported a wide variety of civil society groupings to advocate for energy justice and against energy poverty.

Liz has worked for government and Parliament and civil society, and her predominant aim is to ensure that people’s development is both transformative and within the boundaries of ecosystem sustainability.  She is one of the founding member of The Green Connection, which strives to ensure that economic growth and development, improvement of socio-economic status and conservation of natural resources, takes place within a commonly understood framework of sustainable development. She has led a variety of climate change awareness and adaptation interventions, including a campaign for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund which was rolled out across the Western and Northern Cape, with the aim of building resilient communities who would be empowered to adapt their livelihood strategies and conserve the fragile ecosystems on which they depend. Liz has worked with small-scale fishers over decades, empowering fishers to increase their understanding of the marine ecological systems and how we ensure that we fish sustainably.  This has been through UCT, Masifundise, WWF and IOISA. She currently works with the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), groundWork, OUTA and others, across the SADC region on energy and eco-justice issues, engaging with local communities, national policies and international governance initiatives. Her recent work as part of the Electricity Governance Initiative includes an energy poverty analysis for Oxfam – ‘You can’t eat electricity’ – and a review of the South African renewable energy programme, with a focus on community impacts.  Her work with SAFCEI, as Eco-Justice Lead, involved an advocacy campaign against an illegitimate, secret deal between South Africa and Russia for a nuclear build programme, which would have bankrupted the country. These efforts culminated in a successful legal challenge – a landmark victory – in partnership with Earthlife Africa JHB, which ended the nuclear aspirations of the then Zuma government. For her part in this, Liz was awarded the 2018 Goldman Environmental Award, Africa.



Climate Change Project, News & Events, Programmes

Climate Change Communication Project

Climate change is a reality.

For South Africa, we need both to mitigate our emissions and to adapt to changes that are taking place in our environment. We need to ensure that we can reduce our risks, build our resilience and take advantage of new opportunities.  In order to build resilience, we need knowledge ……

In 2007, the Green Connection ran a series of climate change awareness workshops for local communities in the Succulent Karoo who have had little or no access to information about climate change in the past.

Discussing the impact of Climate Change on their lives and their future

Discussing the impact of Climate Change on their lives and their future

The Climate Change Communication Project raised awareness and built the capacity of the people of the Succulent Karoo around issues of climate change; more specifically in seven of the SKEP Priority Areas, namely the Bushmanland Inselbergs, Namaqualand Uplands, Central Namaqualand Coast, Knersvlakte, Hantam Tanqua Roggeveld, Central Breede River Valley and the Central Little Karoo.

The Succulent Karoo has a variety of stakeholders that can be affected by climate change, including those that rely on agriculture, ecotourism, natural resources such as rivers, and including those sectors of society that have influence over the response by communities to climate change, such as municipalities and government.

During 2008, we ran a series of climate change awareness workshops for local communities in the Succulent Karoo who have had little or no access to information about climate change in the past so we can help build capacity for understanding this threat to the ecosystem and how to mitigate its possible impacts. Where possible weinvolved local municipalities in this process tobuild their understanding and enhance their capacity to incorporate climate change into their policies and operations.

Part of adapting to climate change is understanding its impacts and gaining an understanding of what interventions can be implemented to enable us to improve our quality of life despite climate change.

While a key part of such understanding is that we are inevitably linked to the health of our surrounding environment, we also need to use the natural environment for food, warmth, shelter. How do we balance our needs and ensure that our children will also be able to meet their needs.

In 2009 and 2010, we built on this base and working with two pilot communities, Wuppertal and Sutherland, to assist them in choosing an intervention that will help them to adapt to climate change, address their social and environmental needs, and lead to economic empowerment for the community groups.

Operating the fuel stove

Operating the fuel stove

Safe, reliable and a cost effective fuel stove

Safe, reliable and a cost effective fuel stove








In 2012 and 2013, we worked with the Western Cape Government in helping design climate change awareness materials for their work with local authorities and citizens of the Western Cape.

For 2013 and 2014, the Green Connection wishes to extend our climate change project further and to roll out increasing numbers of smart climate interventions like fuel saving stoves…..

YOU can help.

It costs R250.00 to provide one family with a fuel saving stove which will save them searching and cutting wood, which will reduce biodiversity loss and land degradation due to de-forestation, and will increase one family’s wellbeing and energy security.

Alternative technology roll-out as part of climate change adaptation – Donate NOW!

Watch this space for updates on how these communities opted for in their climate adapted livelihoods.

For more information about Climate Change, visit


Solar Water Heating
Articles, Renewable Energy Advocacy

Advocating renewable energy project

Every day the Sun provides 20 000 times more energy than the entire planet needs. The Sun provides the energy to power the planet in a wonderful coordinated system that enables us to live our daily lives.

However, in South Africa, where we have some of the highest solar resources in the world, we are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.  Over the last few years, we have started to take baby steps towards a renewable future.  How can we ensure that we have a just transition into the future, one that safeguards livelihoods, and enhances socio-economic benefits within our finite ecological limits……

Solar Water Heating

Towards the late 2007, Sustainable Energy Africa undertook a broad investigation into the potential of renewable energy for South Africa, as well as the potential of saving electricity through modest changes to industry and residential practice.

The study drew on experts in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The outcomes of this investigation were quite surprising:

The following are extracts from the SEA presentation:

  • Electricity based on coal has provided sufficient capacity to grow the economy to this point. But right now, there is little spare capacity, and according to Eskom, with a projected 6% economic growth rate, we need to grow our electricity capacity at a similar rate in order to meet an anticipated demand of 80 000MW of electricity by about 2025.
  • Most electricity consumed is by industry and business – amounting to over 75% or three quarters of all electricity generated.
  • Experts in the energy efficiency field project that industry could easily save 20 to 25% of its current electricity use and that such energy savings would pay for themselves. UCT working with a car manufacturing company showed that the company could immediately save about 18% of their electricity using energy efficiency measures, and by so doing cut their energy bill by 25%.

Extract from energy audit summary below-


  • The total investment required for the execution of items 1 to 5 listed above is R130 000
  • The total annual energy earning for this is greater than R2M
  • The payback for these measures is less than one month

Based on Eskom current cost projections, it costs R3.5 million to save 1 MW of power while it costs R17 million to R28 million to build 1 MW.
As we have pointed out, industrial and commercial experts have pointed out that energy savings pay for themselves over a very short time. Therefore the cost to government is reduced. The question is can we incentivise these savings in a way that enables commerce and industry to move swiftly. For example, if we were to implement cost savings in the industrial and commercial sector of 10% by 2009, we would have saved over 3000MW

We have seen that we can save electricity, sufficiently to avoid blackouts in the short term. And we achieve this without any sacrifice in comfort, standard of living, and productivity. In fact we will be more economically competitive because of reduced input costs.

However, we need increasing amounts of electricity as we make the transition from a developing country to a developed nation with all citizens healthy, fulfilled and economically active, and with adequate provision for the youth and the aged.

How do we do this?

A study released in February 2006 examined all available renewable energies within the South African context, and concluded that if we invested now, renewable energy could indeed meet much of our electricity requirements into the future cost effectively. The report is available at If the costs used in this study are updated, and it is put together with the energy savings, it appears that it is more cost effective to invest in renewables NOW (despite their perceived high upfront costs).

What about jobs?

Renewable energy is a major creator of direct jobs. Let us compare Renewable energy technologies with conventional coal and nukes. As you can see, we get 25% more jobs than coal and 90% more jobs than nuclear per unit energy generated.
We cannot continue to use coal because of climate change pressures. (With South Africa producing a per capital carbon emissions higher than most developed countries in the world, we will come under increasing pressure to shift to alternative energy source). Nuclear energy comes with several unaccounted for costs – and high risks, particularly given the “terrorism threat”. It is also dependent on a finite resource – uranium. So eventually, we will end up generating our electricity from renewable resources. But if the costs of moving to renewables now is equivalent to continuing as business as usual – why don’t we move now? We can lead rather than follow.

For more information about where you can see the presentation, please contact Megan at Sustainable Energy Africa or visit For more info about renewable energy potential contact Liz McDaid –


Environmental Impact Assessment – PPC expansion

Involving communities in the Environmental Impact Assessment process – Riebeek West and the PPC expansion.

In 2006, the Green Connection was approached by a group of concerned residents from the Riebeek Valley near Malmesbury in the Western Cape. Residents expressed concern with the way in which the EIA was being run, and felt that they lacked the expertise and experience to ensure that their voices were heard.

PPC was proposing to expand its cement production facility in the valley. Residents were concerned that such expansion would lead to a significant impact on their way of life and wanted The Green Connection to guide and facilitate their input into the EIA process.

Residents expressed concern with the way in which the EIA was being run, and felt that they lacked the expertise and experience to ensure that their voices were heard. The Green Connection worked with the residents, assisting them to obtain extensions to deadlines so that they could read and understand the voluminous documents, assisted with providing commentary on the documents, and watchdogging the process to ensure the people’s environmental rights were not violated.

The EIA report has now been finalised and is awaiting a decision from the Western Cape Provincial authorities.
If you want to know more about the specific inputs into the PPC EIA, or if you are in a similar situation and would like help, contact



Introduction to Financial Management


The aim of this programme is to give participants an overview of the role of managers in controlling financial resources.

Training outcomes

By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the main elements of financial management and assess whether the Financial Management in their organisation is adequate
  • Identify the financial policies needed in an organisation
  • Develop a budget
  • Do a cash flow projection
  • Develop and interpret a variance report


  • What is Financial Management
  • Financial Policies
  • Managing Budgets
  • Planning and Budget Cycle
  • Financial Planning

For every section that is covered in the Content, there is an Activity. The approach that is used when running this course is to reflect the participant’s own knowledge and experience in handling finances. We work with what the participants know and enhance it. The practical activities that are given to participants relate and will apply in their everyday lives and everyday running of their organisations.


The course is run over 2days


R 750,00 per person, with a minimum of 10 for a booking.




How to use less electricity

Saving electricity saves you money, and saves our environment as well. The business of making electricity in South Africa contributes heavily to air pollution and climate change. It is important to learn how to use less electricity.

Tips on how to use less electricity:

The Geyser

We all know that the Geyser is one of the most power hungry domestic appliances there ever was invented. It takes long to boil, and most of the time it needs reheating for the water to get warm. Therefore, you must

  • Put a blanket around your geyser – this keeps your water hot.
  • Put a timer on your geyser – it will switch itself off during the many hours it is not needed.


Eating is the one thing that no one can go on without, so everyday one must cook. There are also ways of saving electricity while doing so:

  • Cook with the lid on your pot – your food will cook much quicker.
  • Cook with a Hot-Box. You can make one yourself with blankets or cushions. Just bring your food to the boil, then take it off the stove and wrap it in a blanket/cushions – your food will carry on cooking.

Solar Water Heating

Install a Solar Water Heater that will use the heat from the sun to heat your water to wash – this will save you electricity.


Use Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs instead of regular ones. They use 5 times less electricity, but last 8 times longer.


  • Insulate your water pipes – use insulation foam or just use newspaper.
  • Insulate your ceiling – use wine bags, tins, cardboard, wool, rags, straw bales, etc.

Your House

Design your house to be cool in summer and warm in winter. Make sure it:

  • Faces North
  • Has a ceiling
  • Has a roof overhang
  • Has a thick, damp-proof floor