Scores of people have defied lockdown regulations to protest against the closure of beaches in Cape Town. The beach ban was introduced under stricter Level 3 lockdown regulations.
A poster circulating on social media called on surfers, business people and vendors to take a stand against the ban in the Western and Eastern Cape.
Swiss kite surfer, Sven Malig, who is on his sixth visit to the city, was stopped by an officer on horseback at Blouberg Beach. He says he is disappointed that the beach ban prevents him from practicing a sport he’s dedicated his life to.
“It was like always they just say they have to make the order of the president. The beaches are closed, so we are not allowed to go on the beaches and I talked to him and said for me it’s difficult to understand because I came over from Switzerland to do my sport and to go in the water and they were really friendly. They were just taking and saying it’s ok, maybe we’ll open the beaches soon.”
“I just feel that this has been really unfair in the sense that I now have to go to the gym to get exercise where I’m surrounded by 30 or 40 other people panting, etc. And I’m much more exposed to COVID than being in the ocean wherewith the kite you’ve got 20 meter lines, you can’t come very close to other people. The setup on the beach is away from other people. So, there’s very little chance of spreading the disease.”
Beachfront and water sports businesses say the ban, particularly over the summer holidays, has had a significant impact on sales. Lanral Ruddock, from Board and Kite Africa, says they lost out on a quarter of their yearly income.
“The water sports industry relies on the beach for our operations. It’s as simple as that. So, as soon as the beaches were closed, it has completely devastated our income, especially over this period, from after Christmas till the middle of January and even beyond, we can earn up to 25% of our annual income in that period. We rely on holiday time and tourists and because we are very seasonal business, we rely on the summer season to take us through the winter as well.”
Scores also descended on Muizenberg Beach on the False Bay coast. They say the ban is an infringement of their human rights. In a statement, the City of Cape Town requested those participating in the protest to act responsibly.
Both Cape Town Mayor, Dan Plato and Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde are opposed to the ban and have asked national government to lift the restrictions.
The City of Cape Town says it is aware of planned protests against the closure of its beaches.
It says while it supports the call to reopen beaches and public open spaces, officials have been compelled by law to ensure that COVID-19 safety regulations are adhered to.
The closure of beaches is a national regulation within the Disaster Management Act.
Plato has written to the President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking for the lifting of the ban.