A total of 120 children became separated from their caregivers on the City of Cape Town’s beaches this festive season, the City said.
All the children were ultimately reunited with their families, although 16 were initially placed in the care of the Western Cape Department of Social Development on Boxing Day.
This is through the City’s Identikids programme, which registers children at the beach and provides them with armbands to ensure they can be reunited with their families if they are lost.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien said in a statement that nearly 39 000 children were tagged by Boxing Day.
The City says it is ready for the New Year’s festivities, with the deployment of its officials being beefed up at beaches and events over the next week. This includes events such as:
- The Cape Malay Choir Board road march on Sunday, December 30
- New Year’s Eve festivities
- A focus on beaches for New Year’s Day, until the end of the school holidays
- The Tweede Nuwejaar road march
The City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the City expects the beaches and roads to be extremely busy over the next week. The City has appealed to the public to act responsibly.
Smith said that since December 1, 6 790 bottles of alcohol, totalling 4318 litres have been confiscated from beaches and public spaces by City officials. This is an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year, he said.
Cape Town Traffic Service has also arrested 260 people for drunk driving, and the Metro Police Department made an additional 77 arrests. He said this is also a 20% increase year-on-year.
“These increases are indicative of the level of policing that our staff have put in this festive season. My appeal to people is to not become a statistic, either for drunk driving or as a road fatality. There have been a shocking number of deaths on our roads already this month and, in many instances, human behaviour was cited as the cause,” Smith said.
There have also been two fatal drownings since the beginning of the festive season, and 21 non-fatal drownings. There have been 271 help-outs, where persons have gotten into difficulty in the water, at the City’s public pools, he said.
“We are heading into a very busy period and the only way we can prevent or mitigate the risk of visitors getting into trouble in the water is through teamwork and a shared responsibility. Please listen to the instructions of City staff, and lifeguards in particular; and please do not bring alcohol to our facilities or drink before you swim,” Badroodien said.
“It is becoming clear from the statistics that more and more people are aware of the existence of the Identikidz project and are having their children registered and tagged on arrival.
“The fact that we have been able to successfully reunite all children to date speaks to the efficacy of the project. We therefore encourage beach goers to please make use of the system for the remainder of the festive season to ensure that their children remain safe at all times, even if they become separated from their families,” Badroodien said.