Thousands of people were enjoying the surf, sun and sand when Sfiso Kunene, while fighting off thieves, noticed a man pull a young girl into a dark corner of the lifeguard station.
“Two guys were trying to steal cash from me and as I fought against them I noticed the man trying to molest the girl at the station,” Kunene said.
Kunene shouted to the crowds of beachgoers around him, alerting them to the incident.
He said: “When I shouted ‘Bafwethu anibheke lo muntu udlwengula ingane’ (Guys, look at this person raping a girl), the robbers fled, people started crowding the area and lifeguards and police came to see what was happening.”
According to Kunene, there was blood covering the young girl, who was being attended to by paramedics in the lifeguard station while SAPS officials took the man into custody.
Kunene did not open a case of robbery and said the thieves fled with R700.
SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that a suspect had accosted the girl at the lifeguard tower.
“A case of rape has been opened and two suspects aged 19 and 35 have been taken into custody in connection with the incident,” said Gwala.
There were thousands of people at the beachfront yesterday afternoon, and hundreds had converged around the tower when the incident happened.
Mandla Khumalo, a vendor at the beachfront, said criminal activity had increased dramatically during the festive season, resulting in a decline of tourists at the promenade.
“I’m not making enough money, because tourists who buy souvenirs from me are going to other beaches where they feel more safe,” he said.
A lifeguard, Melusi Radebe, said more people were expected closer to Christmas Day.