There was a “sand-off” on Saturday as protesters stieked uit at three of Cape Town’s most popular beaches, demanding government re-open the ocean to the public again.
Protesters gathered on Blouberg, Camps Bay and Muizenberg beaches on Saturday morning after an organisation calling itself Woke Nation circulated a flyer last week, calling for protests at the beaches in defiance of the lockdown.
But political parties say all the protests did was highlight the financial and racial inequality in the city.
This after videos of people swimming and basking on Muizenberg Beach surfaced while cops stood on the sand just watching them.
Most of the beach-goers were not wearing masks.
Woke Nation is calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the lockdown, open beaches and “let the people take off masks and breathe natural oxygen”.
The group previously labelled the lockdown regulations “draconian” and “ridiculous“.
A surge in Covid-19 infections in early December prompted the government to close the country’s beaches, ban the sale of alcohol and mass gatherings in a bid to contain the second wave of the virus.
Police said they removed around 200 people from Muizenberg without incident.
Police spokeswoman Brigadier Novela Potelwa says cops issued a warning to protesters.
“Taking into account a number of variables, police monitored the situation for some time from a distance. After careful consideration of the situation at hand, the unit members peacefully removed the crowd from the beach with no incidents reported,” she said.
But the ANC and EFF have called for heads to roll as officers failed to arrest those who were breaking the law.
Economic Freedom Fighters provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego says: “Based on the previous experiences, it is clear to us that if the majority of these protesters were black they would have been arrested and shot at with water canons and there would have been stun grenades from the police and Law Enforcement, but because the majority are white, the police did nothing.
“We saw this police violence during peaceful protests against racism at Clicks stores across the province and as well as Brackenfell (when the EFF protested against alleged racism at a high school).
“As the EFF Western Cape, we vehemently condemn this deeply entrenched apartheid mentality.
“It cannot be that we have a certain set of rules for whites and different rules for other race groups.”
Meanwhile, ANC MPL Muhammad Khalid Sayed says it is ridiculous that people are fighting for sea water, but “there are people who don’t have proper water to drink”.
Calling the protesters “selfish”, he said: “This protest has exposed once again that we have two cities within the city.”
The owner of Local Surf Lounge Academy Shaun Solomons says he had been teaching his students on “dry land” since lockdown started.
He says when he saw people at the beach, he went to get his surfboard.
“It has been too long since I surfed and when I saw this opportunity, I grabbed it.
“I run an academy and the children are bored, they miss surfing. And I think being stuffed in a small room instead of being at a beach will spread Covid.”
On Friday, the City of Cape Town said it supports reopening the beaches, but advised the protesters to adhere to lockdown regulations.