The Beach of Death

Kings Beach Port Elizabeth on 26 February 2012

Stop and ask yourself; “Why when there is a shark scare on any of SA’s beaches, media all over the world dedicate reams of column centimetres to it, but, when people drown almost daily on a stretch of our coastline we couldn’t give a rats ass?”

So ridiculous have we become that even when the Waka Waka singer had a Kaka Kaka moment whilst being “nearly attacked by a ‘Sea Lion’ in Cape Town(See: Cape Town is Trending on Twitter Today) the media and social media sites went crazy talking about some dumb ass who believes that wild animals just love to be petted and respond to ‘baby talk’.

After the last drowning on Saturday when even 200 lifesavers were not in time to save the NMMU student who had disappeared under the water we all thought that enough was enough but it appears that the drownings will continue.

The knee jerk reaction is to shout and scream and make the ‘authorities’ responsible for ensuring the safety of bathers. Of course this is the easiest way for us to appease ourselves and move on with our selfish lives.

The drownings that have occurred this year all have a number of common threads:

  • Most occurred outside of the times when lifesavers were on duty
  • Most were not strong swimmers
  • Alcohol was involved
  • Heed was not taken of posted warnings

Lifesavers, people, are there for a reason other than getting tans and showing off half naked forms. If there is no lifesaver present and you do not know how to read a rip tide then DO NOT SWIM in the sea.

If we want to minimise these drownings we need to ensure that our children are instructed in the art of water safety and at least know how to swim – of course if we had compulsory PT classes at school then this could happen. But, the thinking from the education department seems to be; “No, let’s rather teach our children about how bad the past was instead of helping them grow healthy minds and bodies. Teaching children life skills that will save their lives doesn’t seem to be a priority.”

It is clear that the no tolerance for alcohol on our beaches is a battle that we are losing. Just this past Sunday I walked past a bunch of miscreants drinking quite openly on the beach. One asked me to take a photograph of him and then quickly retracted his request when I told him that I would publish a picture of him drinking on the beach on MyPE – obviously he knew he was doing wrong.

Our society has become one of arrogant people who do not follow posted warnings. We all assume that we know better and will not be caught. Unfortunately for some the Grim Reaper has a rather twisted sense of humour and hangs out in places where people ignore signs placed there to prevent death.

We are going to have to start calling Kings Beach the “beach of death” as the drownings continue.

If you are going down to Kings Beach today (or any other place where there is water) remember this rule:

No lifesavers combined with poor swimming skills and alcohol in an area with warnings is a happy hunting ground for the Grim Reaper – you have been warned.