Social Responsibility

Marina Martinique and Social Responsibility

A challenge on the Eastern Cape coast

Seventy-five kilometres southwest of Port Elizabeth, nestled on the coastal plain between the Kabeljous and Seekoei River, is Jeffreys Bay with an estimated population of between 40 000 and 50 000. The town and its sprawling suburbs, where the population growth is 2,5 % per annum, face an interesting environmental and social challenge in an area with an abundance of natural vegetation and marine life. One of its communities, the Marina Martinique, has a typical modern life challenge, namely balancing the advancement of its environmental-friendly policies in an area where infrastructure is burdened by an estimated 24 000 people in its neighbouring suburbs of Ocean View, Mandela Bay, Tokyo Sexwale and Pellsrus. These suburbs, only meters away from its perimeter, face poverty, unemployment, crime and weakened social structures.

Considering these harsh realities, the Marina embarked on a process that co-existence with neighbours demands a holistic approach which entails responsibility towards the environment, the economy, human rights and philanthropy. This embodies social responsibility.

The approach of the Marina towards social responsibility is still in an infant stage and currently the Marina pursues charitable giving, volunteering in the community and policies that benefit the environment. It also backs relieve efforts in the broader neighbourhood that one can describe as “socially and environmentally conscious investments.”

The Marina’s social responsibility supplements its role as a substantial employer in the area. Guards, maintenance staff, office workers, domestic staff and gardeners are from the neighbouring suburbs. There are also substantial construction activities in the Marina and an estimated twenty people, such as builders and local suppliers, benefit from each building site.

What triggered the Marina’s current social responsibility drive?  

The severe poverty and accompanying challenging harsh realities on its doorstep are confronting the soul and being of the Marina.

Assisting the poor and the destitute with food handouts is important but the Marina realises that reaching out to the neighbours should be more strategic, structured and geared towards building a community. Marina leadership aligns itself with the philosophy of The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), an international independent think tank, that works to empower poor people to capture opportunities and build resilience to advance their lives. In current troubling times, with the virus pandemic and general economic decline, the Marina values dignity and respect for every person, rejects racism and celebrates diversity. The Marina says it believes in helping the poor and that it is working for justice, human dignity and equality.

During meetings, board members examined the Marina’s role in society. It soon dawned upon them that direct discussion was needed with the neighbouring communities. Too much focus was on dialogue with neighbouring residents through official local government structures and politicians. However, a new emphasis was needed. The Marina thought to look for “common ground” that could be become a steppingstone for building a neighbourhood relationship. Very soon that “common ground” was found. With the assistance of community leaders a common need was identified, namely fighting crime and feeding the hungry.

Community leaders and their Neighbourhood Watches are performing an invaluable service in the various neighbourhoods. However, their crime fighting is being hampered by organised gangs that cause havoc for families that experience a daily struggle to keep afloat in dire circumstances. Despite efforts from the Community Police Forum and the police, crime fighting remains a huge challenge. However, the Marina and its residents came to the rescue and Neighbourhood Watches were  donned in night bibs with insignia, torches and whistles. This was not only the beginning of joint crime fighting but also the start of getting involved in community projects such as food distribution.

Social responsibility means caring

The Neighbourhood Watch members, performing their crime fighting in challenging circumstances, had to be looked after.

Some of them and their families are living on a meagre income and their housing is inadequate, built from discarded material such as plastic, cardboard and corrugated iron. In cases it consists of limited space with a bedroom and a kitchen. The kitchen doubles up as a family room and as a place for the kids’ bedding at night. Some of these family homes are part of a back-yard environment which they share with other families. They also share washing and bathroom facilities.

This, however, is not unique to the living circumstances of Neighbourhood Watch members only. Thousands of families find themselves in similar difficult circumstances.

The inadequate housing with non-existent insulation, means that the houses are extremely hot in summer and very cold in winter. For many families heating is too expensive. This is a breeding ground for acute respiratory infections, influenza, tuberculosis, meningitis, typhus, cholera, scabies, etc.

Feed the hungry

These poor socio-economic circumstances led to the Marina’s involvement in food distribution. The Board made several donations benefitting Neighbourhood Watches and the communities of Pellsrus, Ocean View, Tokyo Sexwale and Madiba Bay. Food parcels, consisting of fresh produce, mince, pasta and soup powder were handed out during the beginning months of the Covid pandemic. However, as the pandemic persists and food donors dwindled, the Marina and the Turkish Time to Care organisation continued with their efforts and distributed last year food parcels worth R34 000. The Marina’s contributions have reached a few hundred families.

The Marina has also assisted an individual household of Ocean View when a fire destroyed their informal house. His plight was posted on WhatsApp groups and Marina homeowners assisted promptly donating money, building material, furniture and a fridge. One of the donations came from a Marina homeowner residing in the United Kingdom. Within days he could start rebuilding his home for his wife and two small kids. Since then the Marina and this Ocean View resident have bonded and he has joined the Marina staff as a security guard.

At one stage board members of the Marina have given up their monthly remuneration to support Neighbourhood Watch structures and communities. Over the last three years an estimated R80 000 has been made available by the Marina to support its neighbours.

The Marina’s principles

The Marina has a vision and values that show commitment to the neighbouring communities and the environment in which it operates. Social responsibility means community involvement and projects based on honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability. The Marina is committed to display a leading role with its community engagement, its investment and environmental practices. Stakeholders must know that the Marina is a reputable partner.

The Marina believes in giving back to the community. It is a core principle. It has a strong sense of community upliftment through financial support, volunteerism, security programs and a strive to contribute to the well-being of the neighbouring communities and selected charities.

The Marina envisages partnerships with organisations to provide annually support for funding special projects and to create lasting change and long-term results. Beneficiaries are mostly located in the broader neighbourhood and should be registered security organisations and charities, preferably non-profit entities in a sound ethical state.

The focus of assistance is to address needs in society, such as security, family and child welfare, poverty, animal welfare, nature conservation and sports activities with an emphasis on making the Marina’s waterways available to swimming competitions.

For the purposes of this document, the Marina provides more information on the following aspects:

  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • Aston Bay
  • Book Exchange
  • Open Water Swim
  • Nature Conservation
  • Street safety
  • Joshua Project 

Neighbourhood Watch

As said earlier in this document, the impoverished neighbouring communities of Ocean View, Mandela Bay, Tokyo Sexwale and Pellsrus are caught up in rife crime with daily burglaries, theft, assault and rape. These aspects are being exacerbated by poverty, inadequate municipal and police service delivery, poor infrastructure and weak societal support mechanisms.

The Marina is building relationships with community leaders and their Neighbourhood Watch. They have requested assistance to combat crime. Thus far the Marina donated reflector jackets, torches and whistles. Unfortunately, the Neighbourhood Watch is not registered yet as a Section 21 entity in terms of Companies Act 61 of 1973 and attempts are being made to assist them with the required paperwork. Meanwhile, regular meetings are taking place to nurture relationships that will be beneficial to everybody’s security.

The idea is that the Marina and the Neighbourhood Watches form a combined force to combat crime.

Aston Bay

The community of Aston Bay has an effective and well-organised Neighbourhood Watch. They work closely with the Marina and the Neighbourhood Watch of Ocean View, Mandela Bay and Tokyo Sexwale. The relationship is a friendly one and there is a deep understanding of challenges. Aston Bay has been requested by the Marina to assist the three communities organising their Neighbourhood Watch and to get it registered. Once the registration is completed, Aston Bay will also provide a training workshop for the Neighbourhood Watch. A registered Neighbourhood Watch can expect more substantial support, such as crime fighting equipment, from the Marina and Aston Bay. Meanwhile, the Marina and the Aston Bay Neighbourhood Watch are doing patrolling together and recently the Marina made a donation to them to install a flatscreen in their security control room for monitoring purposes.

Book Exchange

The Book Exchange is another initiative of the Marina’s Lifestyle Committee and the idea is that it serves as “in-house community building.”  Donated books will be on display at the two Marina gates and homeowners will be able to exchange books. For each book taken out, the user must replace it with another book or two. In this way, the Exchange will grow.

A comprehensive collection of children’s book, fiction and non-fiction could eventually become a broader community project to serve the neighbouring suburbs.

Organisers believe that if this initiative is successful, a long-term vision can be formulated to support the social wellbeing of neighbouring communities.

Open Water Swim

The five kilometres of waterways in the Marina and its excellent quality of the sea water provide a great opportunity to host swimming events. The professional management of the waterways is known far beyond the borders of South Africa and international swimmers and teams make use of the waterways on a regular basis. The Marina is becoming a popular training spot.

The Marina is hosting the South African Open Water National Championships and during October, November and December the National Swim Series are being held. On 30 December the Marina Mile is taking place.

The Marina sees their waterways as an asset for homeowners and the South African swimming fraternity. The Marina Board is also considering making the waterways available for swimming lessons which will benefit schools and neighbouring communities.

Nature Conservation

The Marina’s Wildlife Committee follows a scientific and professional approach looking after wildlife and natural vegetation. The idea is to increase wildlife numbers, green the estate with indigenous plants and trees and to expand the bush area. Fortunately, there is substantial lawn available which can be replaced for more natural bush.

The Marina believes that responsible management of nature is an integral part of its corporate and social citizenship. Its strategic and progressive practices are aimed at minimizing the impact homeowners have on the environment.

Serious efforts are being made to create awareness of nature conservation. A monthly photography competition is being held and homeowners are being encouraged to put up netting to protect smaller marine life under their wooden decks. In the bush area wildlife is receiving nutritious pellets which create attention from families and children.

Lists of indigenous species have been made available to homeowners. These lists consist of about 30 bird species, 38 marine life species, 4 wildlife species and more than 110 plant species. A local nursery is assisting the Marina on the choice of plants.

Considering climate change and the persistent drought, the Wildlife Committee pursues a waterwise approach and homeowners are becoming enthusiastic gardeners creating more and more drought-resistant and indigenous gardens.

However, the Marina is mindful that its neighbouring suburbs should also embark on greening their environment. It will be a mammoth task with the involvement of the municipality, schools and community leaders. The Marina is prepared to share its expertise and resources with its neighbours.

Street safety

The Marina and the Kouga Municipality joined forces to make the street access between Jeffreys Bay and Aston Bay safe for motorists and pedestrians. The street runs through Ocean View, Mandela Bay and Tokyo Sexwale. It is busy with many children crossing the street on their way to school or home. Unfortunately, some children were involved in traffic accidents and in one case a child died. With Marina and municipal funding a fence was put up along the street with pedestrian crossings. A stop street, with traffic signs, was also created at the Kings College School. Marina homeowners campaigned for it.

Joshua Project

The Joshua Project, a drop-in centre, looks after vulnerable children at its facilities in Pellsrus and Humansdorp. They believe in a philosophy that it is “easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  The Marina has made a monetary donation to them for their maths and computer tuition and views this as an investment in the lives of children and that will hopefully contribute to a stronger and safer society.

Conclusion

This document illustrates the Marina’s involvement in uplifting society. The Marina shares the views of the 7th Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan: “Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.”

The Marina believes poverty can be removed by the actions of human beings: “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” This should guide the Marina’s conscious.

Feed the hungry

These poor socio-economic circumstances led to the Marina’s involvement in food distribution. The Board made several donations benefitting Neighbourhood Watch and the communities. Food parcels, consisting of fresh produce, mince, pasta and soup powder were handed out. Several homeowners and residents of the Marina have also joined efforts to assist the neighbours. Regular posts are being done on WhatsApp groups of the Marina and the neighbouring communities to create awareness and to encourage homeowners to make donations.

Soon the Marina realised to join experienced partners in food distribution. The local Can Can project, operating from the premises of the Bay Pasta Company, received a substantial financial contribution from the Marina and subsequently made donations to Neighbourhood Watch members.  This project supports 4 500 families in the Kouga area.

In Pellsrus, the Marina is supporting food distribution of a local town councillor and the Wavepoint Church. Food is being bought from a farming company and then distributed among hundreds of households.

In Mandela Bay a soup kitchen is also receiving support from Marina residents. Fresh produce and gas are being donated. The focus is on supporting kids and the elderly three times a week. Queues are long and it grows as the virus lockdown period continues.

The donations are continuing. Very soon the Mandela Bay Neighbourhood Watch will also receive a donation. Food parcels and protective gear have been asked and the Marina promised support.

In December, last year, a gripping and sad event captured the minds of Marina homeowners. A sudden and unexpected fire destroyed the informal house of a Neighbourhood Watch member and community leader of Ocean View.

His plight was posted on WhatsApp groups and Marina homeowners assisted promptly donating money, building material, furniture and a fridge. One of the donations came from a Marina homeowner residing in the United Kingdom. Within days he could start rebuilding his home for his wife and two small kids. Since then the Marina and this Ocean View resident have bonded and we are sharing ideas how to cement ties for the future.

Board members of the Marina have given up their monthly remuneration to support Neighbourhood Watch structures and communities. An estimated R 40 000 will be made available by the Marina in the current financial year to support its neighbours.

Pellsrus residents received more food parcels this week. It is part of the Marina’s donation to relieve hunger during the virus pandemic. Marina Estate Manager, Vernon Heunis, says the Marina’s social responsibily programme caters for support to neighbouring communities.The food distribution has been organised by a Marina homeowner, councillor Marthina van Niekerk and the Wavepoint Church. Fresh produce and soup were distributed.

The Marina donated food parcels, face masks and torches to Pellsrus residents and their 220 Neighbourhood Watch. Marina Security Manager, Johannes Voorslag (with the blue mask) says there is a huge hunger crisis in Jeffreys Bay and this donation shows the goodwill of the Marina homeowners. Marina resident, Marietjie Heunis, made the face masks. Several neighbouring communities are being supported by the Marina during the virus pandemic as part of its social responsibility programme. The chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch, Mervin Barandse, expressed his gratitude for the donation and said the mealie meal, sugar, potatoes, spaghetti and beans will feed families and their kids in a difficult time.

Pellsrus families are receiving fresh produce. This is part of the Marina’s support to residents during the virus pandemic.

With the financial support of the Marina vegetables are being distributed among residents of Pellsrus. This is part of the Marina’s social responsibility programme to support families during the virus crisis. The fresh produce was bought from a local farming company and more vegetables will be distributed next week. Councillor Marthina van Niekerk and the Wavepoint Church are organising the distribution of cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and sweet potato. Families are also receiving pasta, mince and oranges.

Families of Andrieskraal and Cambria received food parcels from Jeffreys Bay law enforcement officials. Seventy families were helped and 90 children received sweets. Sakkie Murray (in the top picture on the right) assisted. Sakkie is also involved in the new soup kitchen in neighbouring Tokyo Sexwale suburb. Marina homeowners are assisting the soup kitchen. Sakkie can be reached on 072 692 6086.

A large-scale food distribution scheme is supporting hundreds of families in the neighbouring suburbs of the Marina.

The Ministers’ Fraternal is donating every week food to 200 families in Ocean View, Pellsrus, Tokyo Sexwale and Mandela Bay.

Chairperson and Pastor, Johannes Voorslag (see the pic) and 40 church leaders are coordinating this reach-out welfare scheme.

Johannes, who is also Security Manager  of the Marina, says they have been supporting families for years:

“We’ve no racial prejudice or corruption and each parcel is worth R 600.” Victory 4 All is a major donor of the food scheme.

Their CEO, Johan Vos and facilitator Robin Jantjies, is an invaluable force that supports the food distribution.

Victory 4 All receives funds from abroad and established over years in Jeffreys Bay a playschool, foster homes,

a bakery and the King’s College next to the Marina. 

The food distribution of the Ministers’ Fraternal is done from its church premises in Pellsrus.

Their logo (on the wall) says: “Never give up, Jesus is the answer.”