All hands on deck for beach ‘pilgrimage’
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Cape Town - While some Capetonians avoid the beaches at all costs on Boxing Day, many residents come in their droves from across the city for a day of fun in the sun.
This annual “pilgrimage” means that popular beaches such as Camps Bay, Muizenberg and Kalk Bay will be packed with people who often don’t get to enjoy the city’s coastal attractions.
Richard Bosman, City of Cape Town executive director of safety and security, said an estimated 200 000 people were expected on city beaches on Boxing Day (Day of Goodwill).
The city does have a festive season plan to ensure that revellers celebrate in a safe and clean environment, but residents in Kalk Bay fear that the lack of law enforcement at the harbour’s beach may encourage anti-social behaviour during peak season.
“People know there’s no control on that beach and they come in overloaded bakkies and taxis,” said Tony Trimmel, chairman of the Kalk Bay and St James Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association.
He described the influx of “thousands” of people to the beach at this time of the year as an annual “pilgrimage”.
The beach used to be cleaned and patrolled by the city council, but these services have dwindled now that it is managed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Trimmel said.
Harbour staff collected more than 300 bags of litter after last year’s Boxing Day festivities, but Trimmel said the council refused to take the bags away. The state of the beach was “shocking”.
He said the community was trying to put a plan in place to control access to the beach, as well as and the consumption of alcohol over the festive season.
Bosman said the beach was part of the harbour, and it was therefore the harbour master’s responsibility to provide services.
Meanwhile, Camps Bay ward councillor Beverley Schafer has asked for reinforcements at the Blue Flag beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton, ahead of Boxing Day and Tweede Nuwe Jaar.
She said the city was expecting at least 10 000 people to gather on Camps Bay beach.
Chris Willemse, chairman of the Camps Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said that they had come to expect the large influx of people into Camps Bay on December 26 as something that happened once a year.
“It's a festive time. Obviously parking is a problem and getting everyone out of Camps Bay is also a bit of a problem.”
Willemse said people sometimes stayed on the beach until 3am waiting for their transport.
Some people find Cape Town beaches too full and go further afield.
Although the city has moved into the “festive season” stage of its peak season planning and there will be increased visibility and “sustained” deployment of law enforcement to the main beaches until January 4 Schafer felt that some of the busier beaches were still understaffed.
Law enforcement would be bolstered by auxiliary volunteers.
There would also be undercover informal trading police on the beaches to stop illegal traders from selling pirated goods.