Life­savers raise red flag over safety af­ter drink­ing idea mooted

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Siyam­tanda Capa and Hen­drick Mphande ca­pas@ti­soblack­

THE Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is look­ing into the pos­si­ble in­tro­duc­tion of des­ig­nated drink­ing ar­eas on the metro’s beaches, which cur­rently carry a to­tal ban on the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol.

While city of­fi­cials plan to clamp down on drink­ing at pub­lic beaches this com­ing hol­i­day sea­son as a re­sult of pre­vi­ous problems, it is con­sid­er­ing re­lax­ing the rules to make room for des­ig­nated drink­ing spots.

This would mean re­view­ing the by­law through a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

The by­law cur­rently says no drink­ing is al­lowed on pub­lic beaches.

While rev­ellers might wel­come des­ig­nated drink­ing spots, not ev­ery­one is in favour of the move.

Life­sav­ing East­ern Cape chair­man Dave Bam­ber said they backed 100% non-con­sump­tion of al­co­hol at the beach­front.

“I have not seen their plan, but al­co­hol and swim­ming do not go to­gether,” he said.

“You can­not talk of clamp­ing down on drink­ing at pub­lic beaches but at the same time you have a des­ig­nated area for drink­ing. I have yet to hear more on what the mu­nic­i­pal­ity plans.”

An­other life­sav­ing of­fi­cial, who did not want to be named, said: “Al­co­hol and water do not mix. They will en­dan­ger the lives of oth­ers if the pro­posal goes ahead.

“When they are drunk, peo­ple do not even look af­ter their chil­dren. This won’t work.”

Drink­ing was listed among problems dur­ing last year’s sum­mer sea­son, along­side crime and waste man­age­ment.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is also look­ing into hir­ing more peace of­fi­cers to pa­trol beaches ahead of the sea­son. And in an at­tempt to en­force the by­laws on drink­ing in pub­lic spa­ces, the metro po­lice and the SA Po­lice Ser­vice will also pa­trol the 120km coast­line.

The mat­ter was de­bated when a re­port on the state of readi­ness for the sum­mer sea­son was tabled in the sports, recre­ation, arts and cul­ture stand­ing com­mit­tee yes­ter­day.

Sports and recre­ation ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Nox­olo Nqwazi said the city was look­ing into in­tro­duc­ing ar­eas des­ig­nated for drink­ing al­co­hol.

“The by­law is that there is no drink­ing at the beaches,” Nqwazi said.

“We are speak­ing from a law en­force­ment point of view be­cause we are law­mak­ers

“The by­law was ap­proved by coun­cil af­ter ex­ten­sive pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion and our role is to en­force the law.”

Nqwazi said there was a short­age of peace of­fi­cers but they would look into hir­ing more through the Ex­tended Pub­lic Works Pro­gramme.

“The like­li­hood of in­ci­dents hap­pen­ing is higher dur­ing peak sea­son and we then de­ploy more hu­man re­sources to po­lice our beaches.

“We are aware of peo­ple who put al­co­hol in flasks and pre­tend it’s cof­fee.

“Their be­hav­iour, how­ever, in­di­cates that the per­son is in­tox­i­cated.”

Nqwazi said al­co­hol would be con­fis­cated and peo­ple sell­ing al­co­hol would be ar­rested.

Sports and recre­ation po­lit­i­cal head Siyasanga Si­jadu said the city needed to en­force the by­law to en­sure that beaches re­tained their Blue Flag sta­tus.

“There is a by­law on drink­ing –

They will en­dan­ger the lives of oth­ers if the pro­posal goes ahead

there is no drink­ing what­so­ever al­lowed on beaches, and for that to change, or for the depart­ment to have an area des­ig­nated, there would need to be a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion to change the by­law – and un­til that hap­pens, the by­law re­mains.”

Si­jadu said the com­mit­tee needed to chal­lenge res­i­dents and raise aware­ness on keep­ing the beaches clean.

“We are aware that at times there are peo­ple who take chances and drink at the beach, [but] in an ideal en­vi­ron­ment [there should] not be drink­ing at our beaches be­cause we want to strive to en­sure that all our beaches are Blue Flag sta­tus.”

Coun­cil­lors in the com­mit­tee called for the by­law to be en­forced through­out the year, not just dur­ing hol­i­day sea­son.

DA coun­cil­lor Re­naldo Gouws said the depart­ment needed to be clear on the by­law.

“Is there go­ing to be a des­ig­nated area where peo­ple are al­lowed [to drink] or are all beaches go­ing to be com­pletely al­co­hol-free? If so, how are we go­ing to en­force the by­law?”

Gouws said res­i­dents drank al­co­hol daily on the grass ar­eas at Pol­lok Beach in Sum­mer­strand.

“In Ward 2, al­co­hol is con­sumed ev­ery day, but there were no en­force­ments.

“I want clar­ity for the depart­ment if we are go­ing to des­ig­nate a spe­cific area for peo­ple to con­sume al­co­hol and how it will be en­forced.”

ANC coun­cil­lor Siphiwo Plaatjies asked if the by­law was en­forced through­out the year.

“If you go to Wells Es­tate on Satur­day you will get more than 3 000 peo­ple there hav­ing braais and their small lit­tle par­ties.

“When is it then ap­pro­pri­ate for us to ap­ply the by­law?” Plaatjies asked.

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