A magistrate, of all people, has done something to make the seaside town of Fish Hoek a more attractive place. Goodness knows, it doesn’t have much to commend itself to tourists these days.
It was always a so-called “dry town”. The family on whose land the first houses were built stipulated there should be no bottle store within the perimeters.
Not that this stopped townsfolk from drinking like the fish after whom the town is named. But it does mean that you can’t meander down to the main street to top up your cellar or buy a case of beers.
Instead you have to drive to Long Beach Mall or Kalk Bay or Glencairn where bottle store owners are only too eager to pack your car with your choice of demon drink.
Fish Hoek also has the ugliest main street in the Western Cape, not improved by the addition during the apartheid years of a police station whose grim high walls at the town’s entrance were designed to repel attacking mobs and now simply repel the aesthetically minded.
But at least Fish Hoek had its beach, the best bathing beach in the country, gently shelving and safe, where you could swim out into deeper water and float on your back, rising and falling with the swell. Well, that’s how it used to be for many years, including the 22 I lived in the Fish Hoek valley. Now the sharks have precedence and you can be fined for harming any great white that seems intent on adding you to the bay’s growing list of victims.
Until they install nets, Fish Hoek is strictly for paddling only.
Willem Cornelius, a Simon’s Town magistrate under whose jurisdiction Fish Hoek falls, must have realised drastic action was needed to bring visitors flocking back.
According to a letter leaked to the Weekend Argus, he has pointed out that the City of Cape Town’s traffic by-laws, including those that authorise the confiscation of cellphones used by motorists while driving, are in conflict with the National Road Traffiic Act.
What this apparently means is that Fish Hoek is now one of the few |places where motorists may still chat on their phones in mid-traffic without fear of a fine.
All those who have been suffering withdrawal symptoms can race down to the southern Peninsula for a fix. Some may feel the need to do so more than once a day.
Local businesses, including the car repair shops, will boom.
While Mr Cornelius is about it, why not let people smoke in public places, too? That could be another tourist drawcard.
Apart from the bottle store prohibition, I have always found Fish Hoek to be a pretty lenient place. My late first wife never learned to reverse park but was given her driving licence by the then traffic manager, JJ Saayman, because, in his words, “I can see you are expecting”.
And once my brother was stopped at a Fish Hoek roadblock at night because one of the lights of his VW Beetle wasn’t working.
“Sorry,” he said, “I forgot to give the car a kick.” Whereupon he kicked it, the light came on and the local traffic police waved him through.
So it’s not such a bad place, after all, especially if you don’t mind the wind. Letting people get away with cell-phone driving and other traffic offences could be the re-making of it.