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DA calls out eThekwini Municipality for ’lying’ about state of readiness for the festive season

THE DA had conducted an oversight visit of Durban beach. | File Picture

THE DA had conducted an oversight visit of Durban beach. | File Picture

Published Dec 12, 2021

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DURBAN - Councillor Gavin Hegter (DA) said a recent oversight visit to Durban’s beaches exposed the city’s lies regarding its state of readiness for the festive season.

The oversight visit took place on Wednesday.

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The municipality had said that around 65 beach guides would be stationed across various beaches to be at the service of visitors. An additional 120 lifeguards had also been deployed, it said.

It added that more than 2 000 metro police officers would be out in full force to guard against anything that may threaten the rule of law. They were to be supported by members of the SAPS. The city has also procured the services of private security personnel to beef-up security. Beach law enforcement officers were to conduct regular patrols at all beaches.

The municipality also said it made 200 000 wristbands available to be worn by all children visiting beaches and in the event that children were separated from their guardians, 38 child-minders would be on standby to look after them until they were reunited with family members.

Hegter, however, said the DA had conducted an unannounced oversight visit at the Durban beachfront which revealed a shocking shortage of beach staff and lifeguards in particular, just days before the peak of the festive season. This despite the municipality’s statement which claimed that the “city has pulled out all stops for a safe festive season".

He said the DA has since discovered that this was mere propaganda, meant to provide a false sense of excitement and security for holiday makers and businesses.

“The unannounced oversight visit to the beachfront and swimming pools revealed that to date all pools are closed and there are simply not sufficient lifeguards and staff on-site,” Hegter said.

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“When pressed for answers as to why there were no lifeguards, the city management has now confirmed in its response to us that ’there have been challenges in acquiring sufficient candidates who passed the prescribed fitness tests, which required the department to extend the applications for a further week’. In its statement the city said that 120 lifeguards had already been deployed. This was evidently untrue.”

Hegter said it was only because the DA put extensive pressure on it that the city had now confirmed to us in writing that lifeguards would be deployed from December 15 until January 13. This despite crowds of holiday makers having already started to descend on Durban’s beaches.

He said the statement further claimed that an additional 2 000 metro police officers as well as private security personnel would be out. The lack of these forces was clearly evident as we witnessed numerous cases of beachgoers openly drinking in public.

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“The DA believes that beach readiness should have been addressed and implemented timeously to ensure that these measures were in place to coincide with the start of the festive season. But because of poor planning, the city has been pushed to mislead the public instead of taking responsibility for its inaction,” Hegter said.

He added that tourism was key to our local economy and measures should be in place to ensure that all visitors can enjoy their basic rights to a safe and clean environment.

We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the festive season.

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The day the DA conducted the oversight visit was the same day the municipality released a statement about pulling out all the stops for a safe festive season.

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