Police raid on dope dealer adds extra excitiement for surfing crowds

2014-07-03 00:00

VISITORS to the fleamarket at the Mr Price Pro Ballito surf competition got more than they bargained for yesterday when police swooped down on one of the stalls, arresting a stall holder on suspicion of dealing in drugs.

The usually laid-back crowd showed various degrees of excitement as the police, accompanied by a team of security personnel, walked up to the stall closest the concert area. After conducting a search at the stall selling T-shirts and bags, police confiscated an undisclosed amount of dagga.

The man running the stall was arrested, and will appear in court today.

“Police found quite a bit of dagga,” said one of the officers who assisted with the raid.

“Drugs are becoming bad in Ballito,” said Zaida Johnson, a student living in the town.

Other locals, however, believe that the levels of crime in this seaside town are very low. “I’ve been here for 14 years and my shop has never been broken into and I have never been robbed,” said a shopkeeper who preferred to remain anonymous.

The beach is always under tight security. “A total of 22 security guards surround the Ballito beach every day,” said Syah Cele, a security guard. He claims this is the safest beach around.

The excitement caused by the search and arrest however soon lost its spectator value, and people could once again turn their attention to the action happening on the water and on the music stage.

The surfing event, which draws thousands of people every year — among them hundreds of youngsters drawn mostly to the free music concerts — as well as good revenue for the town, is held over seven days.

Despite the influx of people and money during major events, concerns were raised that a lot of shops faced the prospect of closing down because the town was so quiet outside of the holiday seasons.

One shopowner said business owners should be a bit more savvy and save as much as they can during the busy season, else they would run into difficult times when things quiet down.

In March this year The Witness reported that Ballito residents were dogged with chronic water shortages and severe restrictions.

The fingers then pointed to affluent residents “who insisted on filling swimming pools, using fountains and running irrigation systems, which are commonplace in many of the sprawling upmarket estates in Ballito”.

Dolphin Coast Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Louis Luyt said an event like Pro Ballito was fantastic for the town. “It brings in tourism and business during the holiday season, and that helps the locals.”

He said crime was under control because police were keeping a close watch on things and break-ins were definitely on the decline. “There is however still a lot to be done. Muggings are taking still taking place in certain areas.”

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