Several arrests were made at a peaceful picket at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg beach.
Cape Town – Several arrests were made at a peaceful picket at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg beach on Tuesday morning, where surfers demanded the government “let us back in our ocean”.
The #BackintheWater campaign believes ocean sports strengthen the immune system in the fight against the coronavirus, but beaches are off-limits during Level 4 of the lockdown to prevent large gatherings.
One surfer arrested by police, but then made a getaway on a bicycle, with police giving chase on a motorbike. A man holding a small placard, and a paddler, were arrested for “protesting”.
Muizenberg resident Samantha Vietri, 30, who was doing yoga on the beach, was traumatised after being verbally abused by an “aggressive” police officer, “who was completely attacking me”.
She was told by the police officer that she had to be on the move and was “pathetic”, and that he was going to arrest her.
Muizenberg resident Samantha Vietri, 30, who was doing yoga on the beach, was traumatised after being verbally abused by an “aggressive” police officer. Video: Tracey Adams / ANA
Vietri, who believed she was not breaking any laws between 6am and 9am, said two policemen had seen her put her yoga mat down on the beach earlier in the morning and did not prevent her from continuing.
Aisling Vasey said on Twitter she didn’t believe it was more risky to surf than to go walking. She decided to protest “because we should all be able to say what we want”.
The protesters had packed up and left before 9am after the picket, which started at 8am. There were about 70 protesters at Bloubergstrand beach, with one of them holding a placard that said “Punishment or protection”.
About 70 surfers protested at Bloubergstrand beach. Video: Armand Hough / ANA
One surfer earlier questioned on social media: “How is it ‘legal’ for thousands of people to walk side by side on the promenade, yet we can’t even be a few metres away from each other in the water?”
The call to action on social media asked that people go to their local beach on Tuesday between 8am and 8.30am with their surf board, paddle or any other beaching gear and line up with a distance of 2m between each person to maintain physical distancing regulations.
Protest action is illegal under Level 4 because it constitutes a “gathering”.
— ɲeill adamsoɳ (@geniusboywonder)May 5, 2020
One surfer was placed under arrest by police, but then made a daring getaway on a bicycle, with police giving chase on a motorbike. Video: Tracey Adams / African News Agency (ANA)