Authorities and rescue services are preparing for an influx of visitors to the popular Atlantic seaboard beaches in the coming weeks.
The City of Cape Town confirmed that extra law enforcement officials will be deployed to keep beach-goers safe. The City said there will be lifeguards deployed on certain days over the next few weeks.
Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for Law Enforcement for the City of Cape Town, specialised units would be diverted to the beaches during the peak season.
“The beaches are a priority area for the City over the festive season as many of our locals, as well as tourists, are attracted to the city’s beautiful, pristine beaches during this period. Unfortunately, those with criminal intent also see the beach areas as rich pickings for their activities.
“Keeping all our visitors safe and dealing with these threats is a priority and for that additional manpower is needed,” he said.
The City’s auxiliary officers will also be active over the season and augment the efforts of our full-time officers.”
Mr Dyason added that the focus of the festive season safety plan would be the safety of all visitors. “In order to achieve this, officers will pay attention to enforcing all of the City’s by-laws and in particular the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisance By-law and the clampdown on alcohol on our beaches by enforcing the provisions of the Seashore Act.”
He added that working with structures such as SAPS as well as local Community Police Forums (CPFs) was a vital part of the safety plan. “It is extremely important because an integrated approach to fighting crime is a proven and effective method of combating criminality. To this end the City’s enforcement agencies are committed to supporting all national policing programmes.”
Meanwhile, the City also confirmed that there will be extra lifeguards on duty at some of the popular beaches including Camps Bay and Clifton. Lifeguards will be deployed between 10am and 6pm daily to 22 beaches until January 31 next year. Thereafter, they will be deployed to beaches only on weekends and public holidays until March 31.
In a statement last week, JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said: “We made this arrangement to compensate for the closure of many municipal swimming pools that will more than likely see an increase in visitor numbers to our beaches and tidal pools.
“We also thank Lifesaving Western Province for their continued support in helping us build a safer city which is a critical priority in our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan.”
According to Mr Smith, the City has more than 270 trained and accredited temporary lifeguards and over 1 500 volunteer lifeguards on duty, as well as the voluntary services of the various lifesaving clubs affiliated to Lifesaving Western Province. This year, the Recreation and Parks Department has a pool of 100 additional lifeguards for deployment as needed.
Mr Smith added: “However, much of our success will depend on the cooperation of the public. We still have far too many people who swim outside of the designated bathing areas and who disregard the instructions of lifeguards. Alcohol is the other major factor that bedevils our efforts to ensure public safety.
“We expect the amount of confiscated alcohol to increase significantly in the weeks ahead. It’s more than a little frustrating, because it does feel as though we say the same things over and over and yet history repeats itself every year. I implore the public to please use common sense when they are out and about on the roads and at recreational facilities. Alcohol impairs one’s judgement and leads to reckless and irresponsible behaviour that endangers the affected person as well as others who are wanting to enjoy our beaches. Surely a few hours of good clean fun can be had without it. I am hoping that we can have a festive season without the tragedy of drownings.”
The National Sea and Rescue Institute (NSRI) has also urged holiday makers planning to visit the coast to stay safe this summer. In a statement last week, spokesperson Craig Lambinon said: “The NSRI is asking parents to make sure their children have responsible adult supervision around all water. We are urging the public to prepare, with a safety conscious mindset, before venturing to the beach, swimming pools, lagoons, lakes, rivers and dams.”
Water safety tips from the NSRI:
1. Children should have responsible adult supervision when in or near water.
2. Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty and swim between their flags.
3. Don’t drink alcohol before you swim.
4. Never swim alone. Swim in groups.
5. Swimming pool fences and a child safe pool cover or net is vital at home swimming pools.
6. Know how to survive rip currents.
7. Don’t attempt a rescue yourself.
8. Do not let children use floating objects, toys or tyre tubes at the beach or on dams as they may cause you to be blown to deep water by winds.
9. Do not be distracted by your cellphone.
10. Wear life jackets when you are on a boat.
11. If your boat has a kill switch always wear it.
12. Paddlers and boaters should have NSRI’s free RSA App Safetrx cellphone app dowloaded and used on cellphones.
13. Wear bright clothing.
14. Rock anglers should wear life jackets.
15. Have local emergency numbers programmed into your phone.
16. Do not dive into water.