STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND SPECIAL PROJECTS, ALDERMAN BELINDA WALKER

I met with representatives of Lifesaving Western Province today. The outstanding issues relating to the agreement between the City of Cape Town and Lifesaving Western Province (LWP) have been resolved. In terms of our partnership agreement, the City is committed to give this organisation a grant of R3 million for the 2013/14 financial year.

As in previous years, lifeguards will be present on beaches on weekends and public holidays from October to March. During the summer and Easter school holidays there will be lifeguards on beaches every day. LWP has a long history of upholding the spirit of lifesaving and I am sure they will continue to ensure that our beaches are safe.

The City is one of a number of financial contributors to this organisation. The City’s Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department initiated an agreement with Lifesaving Western Province in 2007 and gave a grant of R3 million per year to expand the good work that this organisation does. We have assisted this organisation with equipment and uniforms, as well as building club houses on a number of our beaches. I hope that we can continue to work together in good faith as we have done so in the past.

The City’s partnership with LWP over the past few years has significantly reduced instances of drowning and resulted in better management during peak season. During the 2012/2013 Festive Season, beach attendance reached a peak of more than a million people with three drownings reported. Lifeguards rescued and treated many beachgoers, as well as saved countless other lives through preventative actions.

Cape Town has a very long coastline, spanning 307km, and monitoring this coastline is always going to be a challenge. Ensuring safe swimming at our beaches depends on a number of different partnerships and efforts.

There will always be times throughout the year when no lifeguards are on duty. Law Enforcement Officers and beach management staff communicate with users not to swim where there are dangerous rip currents. We appeal to beach users to please adhere to their advice, as well as that of lifeguards, at all times.

Signage warning beach users of the dangers of rip currents and unpredictable seas is an important part of our efforts to encourage responsible behaviour at beaches. The City is also exploring the use of loudhailers and sirens to warn people of the dangers of swimming in prohibited areas.

Schools and the Western Cape Education Department have been requested to alert the City and/or Lifesaving Western Province if they are planning beach excursions for students so that lifeguards can be made available.

The City regularly hosts Learn to Swim programmes across Cape Town in order to prevent drowning incidents. With approximately 460 drowning incidents reported annually in South Africa, Learn to Swim programmes are a priority for the Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department. Many people are prevented from learning to swim due to a lack of access to swimming pools. The City is committed to providing increased access to swimming pools as well as water education programmes.

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ISSUED BY:
INTEGRATED STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION AND BRANDING DEPARTMENT, CITY OF CAPE TOWN