Durban - Metro police officers started the Day of Goodwill by throwing a few punches at beach goers who were drinking in public.
Senior superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said officers had confiscated liquor brought to the beaches and poured it down the drain.
“We are taking a zero-tolerance approach. They’ve been warned about drinking in public, but there are still ignorant people coming through to the beachfront with alcohol,” Sewpersad said.
“People are behaving; there are just those odd ones and the arrogant who want to drink liquor on the beach. There are also those vendors who are selling liquor.”
Sewpersad said there were about 2 700 metro police officers throughout the eThekwini Municipality and most were deployed to the hot-spot areas such as the beachfront and Durban Jazz Festival held on Thursday at Hazelmere Dam.
There were also 20 metro officers patrolling the beachfront on bicycles.
Sewpersad said the Durban beachfront was still under strict control and deployments had proved so successful that no serious incidents were reported so far. Alcohol consumption in public was being dealt with via a R2 500 fine or arrest.
Sewpersad said one man was arrested for drug and dagga possession.
He said crowd numbers started to pick up after midday yesterday and people were having a good time with their families.
“People were complimenting police on restoring Blue Lagoon to the way it was,” Sewpersad said.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said 83 519 vehicles were stopped by law enforcement authorities in KwaZulu-Natal between December 1 and Christmas Eve.
“A total of 173 motorists were arrested for drunk driving and 44 motorists were arrested for speeding during the same period,” Ntuli said.
The MEC said the provincial government would intensify its integrated law enforcement operations throughout the festive season, focusing on driver documentation, drinking and driving, seat belts and vehicle roadworthiness.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the central beaches were “fairly busy” on Christmas Day.
Mayisela said 9 081 wristbands were issued to children on Christmas Day and although 77 children were separated from their parents, all were reunited with their families by the end of the day.
He also said metro police had deployed about 180 personnel along the central beach areas and would continue to patrol and keep watch to ensure all patrons obeyed the rules.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula were involved in community engagements by inspecting the Safer Festive Season operations in public spaces and places of leisure such as uShaka Marine World, which they visited yesterday.
On Tuesday, Premier Sihle Zikalala said more than 700 drunk drivers had been arrested in KZN since the start of December.