Mixed feelings on Blue Flag status

The Fish Hoek beach catwalk.

Two far south beaches have been awarded Blue Flag Status for the coming summer season.

Fish Hoek Beach and Muizenberg Beach ticked all the boxes based on 33 criteria divided into four categories: environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, and safety and services.

The announcement was made by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

The City of Cape Town said it was good news for beachgoers and showed the City’s commitment to providing quality facilities for residents and for visitors, but Angela Botha, of Fish Hoek Tourism, questioned how the two beaches had ticked the safety box for Blue Flag status when they had both been the scene of recent attacks.

Last month,an elderly woman was attacked by a vagrant on the Fish Hoek catwalk while out for a walk with a friend.

Martha Gibson, 76, was punched in the face by a homeless woman sleeping in the subway tunnel. She was knocked off her feet and her glasses were broken.

To add insult to injury, Ms Gibson found the law enforcement office closed when she went there for help after 11am because the officers had been sent for a random drug test (“Call for subway to close after attack,” Echo, November 7).

In August, a 55-year-old-woman was assaulted with a large rock while out running on the Muizenberg catwalk, bringing the number of attacks, at that time, to six, (Another catwalk attack,” Echo, August 8).

However, Vincent Shacks, general manager of sustainable tourism at Wessa, who runs Blue Flag nationally, said each beach had a specific period within which it was expected to uphold Wessa’s 33 criteria under the four categories, and for Fish Hoek and Muizenberg Beaches that period was only three months – December 1 to March 31 2020.

Wessa had strict criteria beaches had to meet to be granted Blue Flag status, he said, and during the two months in which Muizenberg and Fish Hoek beaches were assessed, Wessa checked whether safety measures and other services were up to scratch.

Crimes reported to the police would also be taken into consideration and Wessa would also liaise regularly with the City and raise any problems with the beach manager.

The City’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said the City was due to go public soon with its festive season preparedness plan.

Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp said Muizenberg SAPS would be increasing visibility – including foot patrols at holiday spots and road blocks – across the precinct during the festive season with specific attention to the use of alcohol, on beaches and at illegal shebeens.

Captain Knapp encouraged visitors to be alert.

The other beaches to receive Blue Flag status include Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay, Camps Bay, Fourth beach in Clifton, Llandudno, Melkbosstrand, Mnandi, Silwerstroomstrand, Strandfontein and Seaforth (provisionally).

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