Keeping swimmers safe in the surf

Sabelo Mkoko, senior lifeguard at Mnandi Beach watches over beach goers.

Lifeguards at Mnandi Beach had their work cut out for them this festive season as they got involved in several rescue operations, during one of which three youth drowned.

The trio – a boy, 13, and two girls, aged 15 and 11 – drowned on Friday December 8.

Waseem Hassen, 20, from Bonteheuwel, was one of two lifeguards who saved three women and five men who nearly drowned on Sunday January 7.

The women had to be resuscitated.

Mr Hassen said beach goers listen when lifeguards speak to them but the minute they turn their backs, the situation changes.

“We tell people not to swim there, there is a little hole, where it is deep and rocks at the bottom,” he said.

When mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith, visited the beach on Thursday January 11, he said money would be allocated for outdated and vandalised jet skis.

This comes at a cost of about R80000 each.

This year the City of Cape Town’s lifeguard contingent consisted of more than 270 trained and accredited seasonal lifeguards, and hundreds of volunteer lifeguards at beaches. They were assisted by volunteers from the various lifesaving clubs affiliated to Lifesaving Western Province.

“Considering the number of people who flock to City beaches, our lifeguards are doing sterling work,” Mr Smith said.

“They have to contend with bathers who ignore instructions and refuse to heed warnings. We’ve had two incidents where up to 100 people were swimming in a non-bathing area. This places an additional strain on lifeguards whose main duty it is to keep bathers safe in designated areas,” he said.

Eleven people drowned on City beaches between Tuesday December 5 and Monday January 8.