City clears the decks for the festive season
The City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement Department has set in motion the disposal of thousands of litres of alcohol.
The disposal of the alcohol is symbolic of one of the biggest public safety headaches for the City, but also other enforcement and emergency service providers in Cape Town over the festive season.
In the previous financial year, our staff confiscated 16 926 bottles equating to 11 515,62 litres of alcohol.
Nearly half of the alcohol was confiscated on three priority days over the 2017/18 Festive Season:
· Switching on of the lights event: 1 818 bottles
· Boxing Day: 2 126 bottles
· New Year’s Day: 3 805 bottles
The statistics prove that, for some, there is no fun to be had without alcohol. The reality is that this blatant disregard for the law and the impact of their drinking and antisocial behaviour forces us to dedicate enforcement resources that could have been better utilised elsewhere.
Based on some of the key trends our staff have observed around the concealment of alcohol on beaches and public spaces, it is clear that most people know they are breaking the law.
These trends include:
· Using children to smuggle alcohol in to events
· Decanting alcohol into cooldrink bottles
· Hiding alcohol in the beach sand to avoid detection
· Choosing open access beaches like Strand, Camps Bay and Clifton over beaches where access control is in effect, and where vehicles and bags are searched upon arrival
Persons who are found with alcohol are fined R500 and provided with a receipt listing the exact items confiscated, in the event that they want to reclaim their goods upon paying an impoundment release fee of R624. Alcohol is kept in storage for three months, after which it is disposed of in terms of the City’s By-laws, as you will witness today.
The destruction of alcohol usually elicits varied responses … from those fully in support to others who are aghast at the waste of good alcohol. A few even lambast the City.
Let me reiterate that much of our festive season planning revolves around mitigating the impact of alcohol. For example:
· We have increased our lifeguard complement to 334, because alcohol is one of the biggest contributors to drownings and sea rescues
· We exhaust overtime budgets and resources to ensure an increased presence on the roads to safeguard the public from drunk drivers
· Over the last few years, we have devised and implemented the Identikidz project at priority beaches to safeguard unsupervised children who get lost or hurt
The enforcement services do their best to safeguard the public, but this is ultimately a problem that requires a change in mindset. The irresponsible use of alcohol remains too firmly entrenched in our social fabric and we need to start acknowledging that and calling out those who abuse alcohol.
While we find that alcohol confiscations is a big area of interest to the media and the public, there is so much more that goes into our planning to ensure that we keep Cape Town safe over this very busy period. A host of departments will join in the overall effort to ensure the safety of residents and visitors, from enforcement and rescue services to transport and cleansing services.
At a glance, by the numbers:
· 1 343 Metro Police, Traffic and Law Enforcement staff to ensure policing in priority areas, both autonomously, but also through joint operations with other role-players like SAPS
· Eight joint operations centres operate across the metropole
· 334 lifeguards on duty at our beaches and shark spotters at eight beaches
· 900-plus professional firefighters at our disposal in the event of a major incident; 120 seasonal firefighters, two helicopters and a spotter plane to assist with combatting wildfires
· 1 888 temporary workers to assist with beach/business area cleaning
· Disaster Risk Management and Social Development staff on duty at 14 beaches on priority days to run the Identikidz programme
This plan is our blueprint that we have developed and refined over a number of years. Even then, it is not static and can be amended to deal with any new challenges we might have to deal with. The plan, in conjunction with regular meetings throughout the festive season involving all relevant City departments and external stakeholders from SAPS to the NSRI and the SPCA, ensure that we keep abreast of developments and are able to divert resources as and when necessary.
However, even the best laid plans come to naught without the buy-in of all concerned. I therefore call on the public to please do their part by adhering to the law, following the instructions of enforcement and emergency staff; particularly lifeguards on the beaches or at the public swimming pools, and taking responsibility for their own safety where it is within their control.