PICS: Several drownings mark tragic start to Cape summer season
Cape Town – The fun of people going to the beach was blighted by several drownings and near drownings, blamed partially on a lack of adequate lifesavers.
In one incident, 25-year-old Thabo Qoza’s body washed up after he drowned at Mnandi beach a week ago. The family claimed there was a lack of assistance from the police and the divers. Qoza’s mother, Nontsikelelo Dondashe, 46, said that after the death of her son, she and the family went to the beach almost every day to see if there was a search.
“We discovered that there were no searches happening since the drowning of my son, and there were no lifeguards at this beach,” Dondashe said, and claimed they were ill-treated by the Mitchells Plain police when they wanted assistance.
Cameron Benn, 34, from Tafelsig, said he was at the beach during Qoza’s drowning. “There were no lifeguards at the time, and the law enforcement officers were minding their own business. I saw him when he was drowning and taken off the shore by the sea, screaming and shouting for help. We couldn’t swim for assistance. It is a painful image that keeps playing on my mind,” Benn said.
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said that at 11am on Friday, the City’s law enforcement marine officers and the police divers recovered a body from the surf at Mnandi beach.
Lambinon said the body was confirmed to be that of a man who went missing while swimming at the beach a week ago.
A few hours after Qoza’s body was found, Lambinon said law enforcement officers at Monwabisi main beach were alerted by a family that their 14-year-old son was in difficulty in the surf. When they arrived on the scene, the teenager was missing.
Lambino said a police dive unit assisted by the City’s law enforcement and NSRI Strandfontein would continue the search.
Nearly an hour after the incident at Monwabisi, Lambinon said the NSRI was alerted to a drowning incident at Lagoon Beach, Milnerton.
“Almost immediately it was reported that bystanders had recovered a 13-year-old male from the surf and bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts were in progress.”
He said law enforcement, Milnerton Surf Lifesaving lifeguards, Community Medics, Life HealthCare Response paramedics and emergency services responded. Despite extensive advanced life support, the teenager was declared dead.
“The two drowning incidents on Friday in Cape Town happened during an outgoing tide and it appears that in both cases the teenagers were caught in strong rip currents,” he said.
Safety and Security executive director Richard Bosman said the City had a comprehensive festive season plan that was rolled out each year to ensure safety. “It is also worth noting that the festive season will likely look very different this year as a result of Covid-19 and the continued state of disaster,” he said.
In August, Community Services and Health Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said about 330 seasonal beach lifeguards and 290 municipal pool lifeguard vacancies must be filled.
Badroodien said recruiting seasonal lifeguards was usually a 23-week process.