Follow all beach rules

2013-12-20 00:00

READING the rules on beach notice boards would make all beachgoers’ lives, including those of lifeguards, easier.

That would, for example, rule out that people bring alcohol to the beach, says municipal lifeguard Sfiso Xulu. He described alcohol abuse on the beaches as a “major challenge”.

Municipal as well as volunteer lifeguards are posted at all Durban beaches and on the beachfront. They can be found from Battery Beach on the north of the beachfront where Xulu is posted, down to uShaka Beach.

“People don’t want to read notices. The dos and don’ts are there for everyone to see, but for some reason there are people who just act irresponsibly, putting not only their own lives at risk, but also those of other beachgoers,” said Xulu.

He said while responding to distress calls by irresponsible bathers, there could be other people who genuinely require the lifeguards’ attention.

“People under the influence of alcohol tend to be brave. I’ve been a lifeguard for five years now, and I can tell you that it is unbearably painful to rush into the sea trying to save a drowning person. For some reason, even those who can’t swim develop some ‘swimming skills’ once they become drunk,” he said.

He said even high tide times are displayed on the notice boards, but you will find people disregarding this and entering the water.

“Some even go in the water at night when they can’t even see what’s happening in the water or what’s approaching them. This is dangerous and is prohibited,” he said.

He said although it was relatively calm on his part of the beach compared with the same period last year, the numbers were increasing rapidly.

eThekwini Municipality’s deputy head of parks, leisure and cemeteries, Christo Swart, said lifeguards were posted at uShaka, Addington, South Beach, Wedge Beach, North Beach, Bay Beach, Dunes Beach, Sunkist, Country Club 1 and 2 and eThekwini Beach.

“The deployment of lifeguards varies between six and 10 lifeguards between 6 am and 8 am at each beach, depending on how busy it is. It becomes a challenge when bathers do not swim in designated areas, swim where no lifeguards are on duty, and don’t respond to instructions. Swimming under the influence of alcohol is indeed another challenge,” said Swart.

Despite the slow flow of people on the beach, provincial Tourism and Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuya­khulu, yesterday reportedly said the province, during the festive season, expected to generate R1,3 billion in local revenue, while this can be pushed up to R2 billion if the tourist revenue was added.

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