As the festive season is upon us and the days are getting hotter, hundreds of people find themselves at different beaches, particularly the Atlantic Seaboard beaches.
The warm weather last week attracted hundreds of people to Camps Bay and Clifton beaches and according to Ward 54 councillor, Shayne Ramsay, there were many complaints from residents about illicit activities that were taking place at the beaches. She said people consumed alcohol which resulted in disorderly behaviour endangering local residents and their properties.
Ms Ramsay arranged a meeting with concerned Clifton and Camps Bay residents and other City officials to discuss the best approach to managing huge crowds on the beaches before the peak season begins.
The officials heard that while there were police officers on the beach, they were not doing anything about the violence, claiming that they were only three and needed backup.
Residents said the problem starts at Clifton 4th Beach parking lot where lots of alcohol was being consumed before and after going to the beach in both taxis and private vehicles. The officials heard that there have been three events on Clifton recently, including the valedictory in very windy weather and none of them was well controlled. It was suggested that every weekend should be treated as an event and private security should be employed to monitor the beaches accordingly.
Green Point CID and Clifton Lifesaving, Marc Truss, suggested there are only three options which are offered by Safety and Security: hire an auxiliary officer; hire EPWP workers or hire a Rent-a-Cop.
Arne Purves from the City’s Marine and Coastal Law Enforcement team informed the meeting that although the coastal management act ensures right of access to the coast by all people at all times that in Kalk Bay, they successfully manage the crowds by employing Rent-a-Cops to assist.
When asked about the plan to combat the alcohol problem at Clifton 4th beach, City’s mayoral member for safety and security, Alderman JP Smith said: “While this may be problematic at Clifton 4th and on Camps Bay, statistics have shown that alcohol on the beaches along the False Bay coastline is an even bigger challenge. So we are caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of ensuring equitable deployment in line with the level of enforcement required. Where possible, vehicles are searched when entering beach areas that have defined access points, but this isn’t always possible,”
Mr Smith said the process of fining offenders and impounding liquor is time-consuming as officers have to meticulously record the details of each confiscation. “In many instances, offenders are uncooperative – particularly if they are under the influence of alcohol. On really busy days, when thousands of people flock to the beach intent on bringing their alcohol with them, this process results in officers spending hours just writing fines and confiscating alcohol,” he said.
Mr Smith said they take cognisance of the increase in visitors to the beaches during the peak season times. To accommodate the increase in visitors and its associated problems, a Festive Season Policing Operational Plan is conceptualised every year to ensure the safety of residents and visitors to Cape Town. “Additional staff from the specialised units and off-duty staff are brought in on overtime to assist the staff that are already deployed. This has the effect of multiplying resources. A zero-tolerance approach is adopted to all transgressions of the law,” he said.
He said the extra numbers are meant to combat this problem but it is not possible to stop everyone if thousands of people can enter the beaches through many open points.