The Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape is going to turn to the courts to have the ban on the closure of beaches overturned. Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape is synonymous with Supertubes, one of the best surfing waves in the world. But nobody may ride any waves as the ban on beaches is in effect.
It is a devastating blow for this town, heavily reliant on its coastal splendor to drive its economy.
Jefferys Bay is a sought after destination over the December period but now its crown jewel is off-limits.
The pristine sands and blue waters draw tourists, keeping the economy turning. Now that economy is taking a hit. The festive season and the money it brings in to a town like Jeffreys Bay is vital as it is still trying to overcome the effects of the hard lockdown. Kouga Municipality Mayor Horatio Hendricks says if the beaches remain closed, the economic impact will be devastating.
“The COVID-19 curve has not spiked significantly in the last three weeks which is an encouraging sign and supported by a high level of recoveries on the other hand the festive season is the last lifeline for may employers and employees who have suffered great losses during the last nine months of the lockdown. We, therefore, believe a more nuanced approach to the approach to the closure of beaches as is the case for the remainder of SA will be a more effective and humane way of saving livelihoods,” says Hendricks.
The municipality is looking for a more rational approach, recommending beaches are only closed on traditionally high volume days.
Some holidaymakers were already in town when the beach ban came into effect.
One holidaymaker says he comes from Johannesburg and expected his kids to swim and booked in advance but now they need to adjust. He says the municipality is using this to score cheap politics and they must respect the national government.
A business operator says they have been hit hard and most shops have closed down and people are losing jobs and she not sure if the municipality will succeed.
The Kouga Municipality is in the Sarah Baartman district which is a declared coronavirus hotspot.
The decision to close Eastern Cape beaches was a recommendation following consultations with local authorities and endorsed by the Premier of the province.
– Report by Lwando Nomoyi