Lifesavers raise red flag over safety after drinking idea mooted
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 relax- ing 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 execu- tive 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 –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 depart- ment 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.