About 45 000 people flocked to the Mother City’s beaches and swimming pools for the annual Boxing Day celebrations. The City of Cape Town’s emergency and enforcement services had their hands full as they kept an eye on local and international tourists visiting the different hotspots across the metro.
“An estimated 45 000 people made their way to the city’s beaches and swimming pools. This is fewer than expected compared to the same time last year and we suspect this was due to the wind,” said the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith.
The city’s lifeguards and National Sea Rescue Institute (NRSI) had a busy day responding to several drowning incidents, which sadly claimed the lives of two men.
Cape Town father Zaheer Bray, who jumped into the sea at Gordon’s Bay to save his son drowned while attempting to rescue him. They were fishing when the boy was swept off the rocks.
In the second incident, an elderly gentleman drowned at Soetwater had gone into the water to take out his daily crayfish quota, had a heart attack and drowned. In both cases, attempts were made to resuscitate the victims, but to no avail.
“Although there has been a marked decrease in drownings, and less people on the city’s beaches, enforcement agencies remain on high alert. Last festive season we had seven drownings between 1 December 2016 and 3 January 2017 (compared to 13 cases which were recorded over the same period the previous year). With another peak weekend coming up we remain vigilant. Drowning remains a concern and we urge people to have fun safely and to swim where there are lifeguards,” said Smith.
The consumption of alcohol on the beaches and unattended children remains a huge nightmare for authorities. Liquor confiscations on the city’s beaches were again at a record high, with revellers finding new and innovative ways to try and conceal their alcohol. This year more than 900 bottles of alcohol were confiscated on the Christmas weekend alone. This included 492 beers, 293 ciders, 62 bottles of spirits and 53 bottles of wine.
“This figure is likely to rise as we are still receiving confiscated alcohol,” Smith.
Nearly 40 children went missing on beaches this weekend, but all were reunited with their families. Smith said the City’s Identikidz Programme had been vital in ensuring that lost children are returned safely.
The City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate coordinates the programme, in which parents and caregivers can register their children when they arrive at participating beaches.
An armband is issued to the child and includes the contact details of their parent or caregiver.
Should the child be separated from their family, this then helps City staff or the police to reunite the child with their family. In the event that a child’s family is not tracked down by the end of the day, the child will be handed over to the Western Cape Department of Social Development.
In addition, from 18 to 25 December, the City’s Traffic Services Department conducted a number of roadblocks throughout the City and arrested 29 suspects, 25 for driving under the influence of alcohol, two for outstanding warrants and two for possession of drugs. At Sparks Bay, law enforcement officers confiscated an illegal firearm.
“The holiday season places huge demands on City staff, infrastructure and other resources. Emergency personnel put in long hours to ensure that visitors leave the City with only happy memories. At times our resources are stretched to the limit, and I want to commend our staff for their hard work and dedication. I also want to thank the public for their role in helping us to create a safer city,” said Smith. VOC