Cape Town -
Authorities believe their zero-tolerance approach to alcohol is the reason for no reported drownings on city beaches since the beginning of December.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said more than 1 000 staff members from his directorate, including traffic officers, disaster management staff and lifesavers, had been deployed throughout the province’s beaches and other public areas to clamp down on drinkers and confiscate alcohol.
“We had only about six near-drownings. This is a huge improvement compared to the 13 drownings we had around this time last year,” Smith said.
One of the near-drownings involved a 28-year-old man from the Barcelona informal settlement in Nyanga, who was rescued on Muizenberg beach at the weekend.
According to disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, the man was under the influence of alcohol.
He was rescued from the water on Saturday by disaster management volunteers and the city’s law enforcement marine unit.
Nathan Ladegourdie, spokesman for law enforcement specialised services, said 2 144 bottles of alcohol, amounting to 1 608 litres, had been confiscated so far.
Most of the alcohol – 612 bottles – was confiscated from northern beaches, including those at Milnerton and Blouberg.
Just over 390 bottles were confiscated on southern beaches such as Strandfontein, while 596 were confiscated in eastern beaches such as Gordons Bay and Strand. About 570 bottles were taken from Camps Bay, Sea Point and Hout Bay beaches.
Ladegourdie warned beachgoers not to bring any alcohol to any beach in Cape Town as it would be confiscated and spot fines issued.
Smith said alcohol remained the biggest contributor to injuries occurring on roads, at beaches and around swimming pools.
“Alcohol plays a major role in many injuries. Between 60 and 70 percent of injuries during this time of the year are related to alcohol… it’s a major destructive force in our city,” he said.
Apart from the injuries it caused, Smith said alcohol consumption also resulted in a waste of resources.
“First of all, it’s very difficult to resuscitate a person who is very drunk. Their body’s response to treatment is much slower than a person who hasn’t consumed any alcohol.
“They tend to be disoriented and often get involved in car accidents or other forms of violence such as stabbing. In most cases, paramedics have to deal with violent patients who fight back while being treated,” he said.