A life lost to drowning is a disaster for the family and community the victim is from
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Cape Town - It was a near-fatal drowning for a Goodwood family at Clovelly Beach in 2019. They are just one of many families across the country which had near-fatal drowning incidents.
Raygaan and Maryam Jantjies, two youngest children, a cousin and family friend were pulled in by strong rip currents at around 5pm and as the tide changed things became worse.
Raygaan and his eldest son, Abdu-Raziq, immediately ran in to save them but also found themselves in difficulty. Luckily, two seasoned lifesavers were on site and responded immediately. Two bystanders helped on the beach. Lifeguards from Fish Hoek joined in until everyone was rescued. All of them were taken to hospital and recovered.
Raygaan said the ocean was no playground.
“You have to have your eyes on your children at all times. You have to take your kids for swimming lessons and even that sometimes won't save them but it will give them time to stay alive until help comes. Learn your kids not fight against the current because they will lose their energy and as a result they will drown. Go with the current it will push you out again,” he said.
There have been a total of 37 fatal drownings in 16 months, which is an average of just over two drownings per month.
The recreation and parks department recorded 10 fatal drownings between September 1, 2021 and January 2.
During September 2020 and March 2021, 11 fatal drownings were recorded and during the same period between 2019 and 2020, 16 fatal drownings were recorded.
Mayco member for community services and health, Patricia van der Ross, said one couldn’t predict whether there would be an increase in drownings.
“The city’s drowning prevention plan is being implemented in an effort to mitigate against drownings along our coastline. Lifeguards are placed on beaches which have been designated as safe for swimming, as well as at all open municipal pools.
“There are ongoing communications about how to avoid the risk of accidental drowning. In addition, I urge beachgoers to increase their vigilance and practise all safety protocols during this time.
“The department cannot rule out this factor(lockdown restrictions), because the lockdown levels have been different compared to last season. Other factors could also have had an impact, including weather conditions, tidal influences and behaviour.
“It is important to note that while 10 fatal drownings have been recorded between September 2021 and 2 January, 12 lives were saved and recorded as non-fatal drownings over the same period,” she said.
General manager of Lifesaving South Africa, Helen Herbert, said she had to commend the City of Cape Town and all Lifesaving South Africa voluntary clubs based along the coast line.
“Records of lives saved are not always effectively noted as it is viewed by the majority of the lifeguards as their job and need not be highlighted as something special. Drowning prevention includes a lot of education of all members of the public, with access to not only knowledge but practical swimming skills.
“Municipalities and venue management need to provide more information on safe beach usage and appoint more lifeguards to create additional safe swimming areas on beaches and at pools. One life lost to drowning is a disaster to the families and communities affected. The value of the lives saved are incalculable,” she said.