Call to rein in festive season drinking in public places

Eastern Beach in East London is packed with people enjoying the summer weather every year but many are calling for restraints on the festivities.
WITHIN REASON: Eastern Beach in East London is packed with people enjoying the summer weather every year but many are calling for restraints on the festivities.

With just a few weeks left before the start of the festive season, calls to clamp down on bylaw transgressions at some of the Eastern Capes most popular recreation spots are growing in number.

At many beaches, illegal drinking and open fires continue unchecked, sparking fears the situation will become unmanageable as holiday-makers flock to these areas during the festive season.

In East London, residents in Nahoon, Bonza Bay and Gonubie have  to contend with public drinking, fires and loud music every weekend in areas where city bylaws clearly prohibit those such activities.

Port St Johns mayor Nozuko Mlombile-Cingo told the Dispatch the municipality will hold a festive season preparatory meeting with the police, department of social development, OR Tambo district municipality and department of health representatives to look at ways of dealing with lawlessness.  

Mbhashe municipal spokesperson Ncebakazi Kolwane said efforts to curb lawlessness on the beaches would be undertaken “religiously”. 

“We appeal to all Mbhashe communities and those who will be visiting our area to abide by the municipal bylaws as failure to do so will subject them to facing the wrath of the law,” Kolwane said.

But Gonubie councillor Andre Swart  is baffled as to why the Buffalo City municipality even bothered to erect sign boards noting which activities are deemed illegal, as he says there appears to be no willingness to enforce bylaws.

In a letter to city manager Andile Sihlahla, Swart calls for law enforcement and the police to come to the party in respect of containing illegal activities.

In the letter Swart says: “We also request that the traffic department and the police carry out checks on drivers for consumption of alcohol.

“We request you to ensure that if the bylaws are not enforced by the responsible municipal officials, appropriate action is taken against them.”

Swart told the Dispatch that with the warmer weather in East London, more people were heading to the beach and it was essential that the municipality nipped illegal activities in the bud before they became out of hand at the height of the festive season.

Open fires had become particularly problematic, he said.

Gonubie resident Henri Smit said everyone in the community was opposed to the beach drinking and people had even drawn up petitions campaigning for it to end.

“It wouldn’t be a problem if it was a case of people taking a picnic basket down to the beach and having a glass of wine, but it’s not that.

“You're are getting 10 cars full of people drinking openly, shouting and playing loud music.

It’s totally contravening the bylaws and making it unpleasant for everyone,” he said.  

The situation appears to be no better in Nahoon.

Nahoon resident Arthur Thoresen said it was not only the beach that presented problems.

“When they guys leave the beach and travel on the road past the golf course, they throw their beer bottles on the road, which is really dangerous for everyone,” he said.

“On the beach, there are bins but these are not being used.

“Beer bottles are even thrown in the rock pools.”  

Nahoon ward councillor Jason McDowell lamented that illegal drinking began on a Friday night in areas like the lifesavers’ shack, Nahoon Reef and on the Nahoon River.

This lasted throughout the weekend.

“No, the bylaws aren’t being enforced.

“After a weekend there are glass bottles all over.

“There’s constant drinking, fires and loud music being played, all flouting the city bylaws,” he said.

For the most part there was no policing, and he feared as the Christmas season approached, the situation would continue to deteriorate.

 Nyandeni municipality’s chief  law enforcement  officer, Mbuyiselo Mvanyashe, said the municipal beaches at Mthatha  Mouth and Hluleka  were demarcated for braaiing and the consumption of alcohol.

“Those found boozing in areas that are not demarcated will have their liquor confiscated.

“Things like  knives  an others  dangerous weapons  will be confiscated on the spot,” Mvanyashe said.

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya did not respond to e-mail and WhatsApp queries since last  Wednesday.

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