Despite repeated warnings to the public, alcohol use on beaches and other public spaces remains authorities’ biggest headache over the festive season. On New Years’ Day, one of the Cape Town’s most popular beach day, thousands of litres of alcohol were confiscated. It seems locals are trying more creative methods to sneak alcohol onto the beach and in one case, officials found a hollowed-out watermelon filled with alcohol.
Cape Town Traffic made 20 arrests over New Year’s Eve and the next day – 13 of them for drunk driving, six for reckless and negligent driving and one for possession of drugs. Officers also issued 6 389 fines for various transgressions and confiscated four cellphones.
While the Liquor Enforcement unit is still in the process of finalising the tally of alcohol confiscated from all beaches, at Muizenberg, staff confiscated 1 014 units of alcohol.
“Not only does it mar the day out for everyone else, but it also makes the job of lifeguards more difficult when drunk persons enter the water. Later, when they get into their vehicles to drive home, they put other road users at risk, and of course, the potential for conflict even when they arrive home remains great. The impact is far-reaching and potentially devastating, and hopefully pause for thought to those who criticise the City for confiscating their alcohol,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
Lifeguards on the coastline have had a busy summer season with daily reports of near-drownings. Between 23 October and 20 December 2019, there were 13 fatal drowning incidents. The City said of those, 11 happened outside designated bathing areas and one happened after hours, when lifeguards had gone off shift.
In the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, there were eight incidents where lifeguards assisted bathers who had got into trouble. In at least two of the incidents, the patients had dived into tidal pools and hit their heads.
Lifeguards were kept busy on New Year’s Day with six swimmers who had either gotten into difficulty while swimming or injured themselves on the beach. Among them was a 65-year-old lady who sustained a broken leg at St. James. Lifeguards stabilised her and moved her to the 1st Aid room until an ambulance arrived. Another woman hurt her knee at Strandfontein beach and was assisted by lifeguards while at Clovelly Beach, lifeguards assisted two 28-year-old men who had been caught in a rip current.
The City’s Identikidz project seems to be making progress in keeping the number of children who go missing at a minimum. Some 87 386 children have been tagged at 16 beaches since the project launch in mid-December 2019. To date, 286 children who were lost were reunited with their families. Officials had to deal with 192 lost children cases between Monday the 30th of December and New Year’s Day. The project will run until the last weekend before schools reopen and parents/caregivers are urged to make use of the service to keep their little ones safe while out at the beach.
Meanwhile, Metro Police officers arrested two suspects – one for domestic violence in Khayelitsha and another for possession of drugs in Hanover Park. Officers also assisted 10 motorists who had experienced mechanical trouble on the N2 and R300 and issued 202 fines for various traffic and by-law offences.
The City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre fielded 37 calls about the illegal sale of fireworks and 111 complaints about the discharge of fireworks from various areas across the metropole. The City’s Law Enforcement Department confiscated 11 570 units of fireworks on New Year’s Eve.