Cape Town - From Camps Bay to Plettenberg Bay, hundreds of Western Cape residents have come out in support of a call to defy government’s closure of public beaches.
Protesters gathered on three popular Cape Town beaches on Saturday morning after an organisation calling itself #EndLockdownSA circulated a flyer earlier this week calling for protests on Blouberg, Camps Bay and Muizenberg beaches.
The group, which uses social media platforms to garner support for their campaign, has previously labelled the lockdown regulations “draconian” and “ridiculous“.
At Muizenberg, around 200 people were peacefully removed by police.
“Western Cape Public Order Police members were earlier in the day deployed to Muizenberg after a group of about 200 people converged on Muizenberg beach. On arrival, the police observed the situation and issued a warning to the group,” according to a statement from the provincial police commissioner.
“Taking into account a number of variables, police monitored the situation for some time from a distance. After careful consideration of the situation at hand, the unit members peacefully removed the crowd from the beach with no incidents reported.”
In Plettenberg Bay, locals gathered at Central Beach, where Chief of Bitou Law Enforcement, Siyasanga Vandala, engaged with some of the protesters to try and get them to disperse.
An African News Agency photojournalist filmed a protester being arrested, but attempts to obtain comment from police about the incident have so far been unsuccessful.
The small group that spoke with Vandala, some of whom were not wearing masks, were adamant that they had a right to be on the beach.
A surge in Covid-19 infections in early December prompted the government to close the country’s beaches, ban the sale of alcohol and ban mass gatherings, except for funerals in a bid to contain the second wave of the virus.
At the time, the Democratic Alliance approached the Western Cape High Court to have the beach closures on the Garden Route overturned due to concerns that it will further affect the region’s already struggling tourism industry.
The court ruled in favour of upholding the closures.
On January 12, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would remain on level 3 lockdown until the peak of the new wave of infections has passed, with most restrictions remaining in place.
Tourism is a major driver of the Western Cape economy and after nearly ten months of lockdown many small businesses have been forced to close down.
Earlier this week, Springbok surfers Beyrick de Vries, the former captain of the team, and Nthando Msibi, as well as attorney Graham Taylor, defied the beach ban in Durban by hiring a charter to drop them beyond the shark nets near Wilson’s Wharf in Durban and swimming back to shore.