Lifesaving SA general manager Helen Herbert said they were saddened by the numbers of drownings, especially over the festive season. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Lifesaving SA general manager Helen Herbert said they were saddened by the numbers of drownings, especially over the festive season. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Concern for water safety as drownings dampen the new year fun

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Jan 11, 2022

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Cape Town - Water users have been called upon to make safety a top priority by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), lifeguards, emergency services and police after several recent fatal and near-fatal drowning accidents.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said there had been several disturbing fatalities over the past few days, including the fatal drowning of a 37-year-old man from Mfuleni at Monwabisi Main Beach, a 60-year-old Strand resident who was found floating lifelessly in his apartment block swimming pool, and the fatal drowning of a 9-year-old child at Glencairn Beach.

On Saturday, as Capetonians sought a respite from the heat, the City recorded its busiest beach day in three years. Community services and health mayco member Patricia van der Ross said three lives were lost to fatal drownings, while 134 lives were saved because of lifesaving, policing and other services’ efforts.

Van der Ross said the fatal drownings took place outside designated bathing areas at unguarded beaches or beyond the hours when lifeguards were on duty, at Clovelly, Monwabisi East and Strand.

“In addition, a total of 127 help-outs were recorded by City lifeguards on duty. These are rescues where a potential drowning was avoided and are in addition to the countless preventative actions taken by the lifeguards prior to a rescue being required,” said Van der Ross.

The NSRI, lifeguards, the emergency services and police attended to a disturbing number of fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents over the past four days around the coast and on inland waters since Thursday. Picture: Supplied

Lifesaving SA general manager Helen Herbert said they were saddened by the numbers of drownings, especially over the festive season.

Herbert said there was a lack of water safety throughout the year but peak summer season just highlighted the issue as the numbers of holiday makers and recreational water users increased – just yesterday they recorded 130 rescues at Kogel Bay Beach alone.

Providing more insight, Herbert said there were a number of factors influencing the lack of water safety that became apparent over the past few days. Major factors included the lack of adequate supervision, swimming outside of designated safe swimming zones, lack of swimming skills and the use of alcohol and other substances around water activities.

“Another factor is peer pressure. We are seeing our communities celebrating the festivities with vigour for the first time since 2019 and in some cases doing so to the extreme,” said Herbert.

NSRI, lifeguards, emergency services and the police attended to a disturbing number of fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents over the past four days around the coast and on inland waters since Thursday. Picture: Supplied

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Cape Argus

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