‘Don’t dump your kids at the beaches’

2014-12-22 00:00

IRRESPONSIBLE parents who leave their children at the beach to go and enjoy themselves elsewhere will get arrested for negligence, warned the eThekwini Municipality.

Head of the parks, recreation and culture unit Thembinkosi Ngcobo said some parents leave their children at the beach deliberately, for as long as five days, because they know that they will be cared for.

The city has transformed Addington Primary School at the beach front into a safe haven for children waiting to be fetched by their parents. The children are fed, bathed and are provided with shelter.

“Some parents leave their children at the beach on Christmas day and fetch them on January 2. It’s wrong. If you know that you can’t look after them, leave them with a relative or social workers because if our social workers find that you were negligent, you will be stripped of your parenting rights,” said Ngcobo.

He said not only are children traumatised by being left with strangers, but sometimes they see dead bodies washed up at the beaches. “We have beach buddies for a reason, please use them. Parents should assist by giving them the correct details because often children don’t know their parents’ names or telephone numbers.”

More than 1 500 staff have been deployed to deal with the influx of holiday makers at the beach. These include cleaners, law enforcement officers and lifeguards.

“The cleaners are there during the day and are working until 11 pm at night to make sure that the beach and toilets are kept clean.”

Although extra lifeguards have been added, Ngcobo said he was worried about people who swim outside the allocated hours. “Last year, we had a problem with criminals stealing items like cellphones, but also men harassing women. We also caught people having sex on the beach, but this year people are behaving,” said Ngcobo. “We have CCTV cameras everywhere. If you do something wrong, the authorities will come for you.”

Metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi said police are conducting 24-hour road blocks to check for alcohol at the beaches. Msomi said December 26 and January 1 are the most crucial days during the festive season.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said 140 000 people visited Durban’s beaches during the long weekend alone. “We are expecting over one million people to visit our beaches this festive season,” said Mofokeng.

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