As crime continues to plague South African communities, fishing spots at many of the countries beaches has not been left unaffected. In recent months, anglers and beachgoers who frequent Strandfontein beach, in Cape Town, have voiced concern about the impact of crime on the stretch of beach, in particular between Strandfontein and Macassar beaches. In response to a string of criminal activity, last week a group of anglers held a meeting to discuss the lack of security measures available to both anglers and beachgoers.
Chairperson of the Strandfontein Community Policing Forum, Sandy Schutter confirmed that number of incidents of criminal activity along Strandfontein beach has been reported and that criminals are specifically targeting fishermen and couples.
“[Criminal activity] stretches out to Mitchell’s Plain, including Swaartklip, and we have noticed a spike in crime where anglers fish,” Schutter stated.
Following a recent incident in which a couple was targeted by criminals, Schutter says that a press release was forwarded to residents warning them to refrain from frequenting beaches in the early hours of the morning and not to venture into secluded areas.
“I would encourage the City of Cape Town to grant anglers security services since they pay a fishing licence. There were security guards at the Pavilion, but the City removed them. The security said that since they were outnumbered by the criminals coming onto the beach area they feared for their safety,” she continued.
According to a member of the Millennium fishing club, Irshaad Amierodien, 250 people attended a meeting on Friday at the Strandfontein Pavilion. He says that the meeting was scheduled after a number of men were spotted heading towards anglers, consequently forcing the anglers to flee the vicinity.
On the same evening, four men attacked an angler after they were caught attempting to break into the victim’s car, the men were subsequently apprehended.
Given continued attacks against anglers, Amierodien said those in attendance indicated their willingness to adopt a proactive approach to the concerns, since the violence not only impacts anglers, but all beachgoers.
“So, we rallied all the anglers, held a meeting and the result of the meeting has been quite positive. It’s time for us to take a stance and defend ourselves,” he stated.
Amierodien notes that anglers are now in the process of establishing an exco and a ‘beach watch’ in a bid to improve safety on beaches.
He urges all anglers to dedicate one hour over weekends to patrol the beach, from Strandfontein Pavilion to Macassar beach, which is considered a crime hotspot.
At the level of local government, Amierodien says that concerns raised by anglers appear to have been “brushed aside.”
“We have been called to meetings a couple of times, but these meetings never take place. The people they send to the meetings don’t understand what we are requesting.”
In light of the fact that anglers are required to pay an annual fishing licence, Amierodien says that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of anglers and to maintain all beaches.
“Many anglers were not sure what the funds are being used for. It has been made clear to us now that that money is not used for the upkeep or safety of the beaches – it is only used for scientific research of marine life.”
While anglers understand that state funds are urgently required to ensure safety within gang ridden areas, Amierodien urges City authorities to avail at least two safety patrol vehicles for the security of beaches.
“We also request a direct line to the patrol vehicles, instead of having to phone the police and wait another half hour for them to come – by that time we will be dead,” he added.
Since beaches are enjoyed by all members of the public, Amierodien encourages everyone to get involved.
The group can be contacted via their Facebook page: Cape Town Rock and Surf Fishing.