Lack of action on public drinking again under spotlight

Fed up with drunken, noisy revelry in the public picnic area next to her Beach Road apartment complex, a Port Alfred resident has appealed to the police and municipality to put an end to the lawlessness.

Natalie Gibson sent a letter to deputy director of community protection services, Fanie Fouche, on September 27, but has still received no answer.

She said she had put her complaint in writing after an earlier phone call to Fouche.

Gibson said regular weekend use of the Beach Road picnic and braai area posed a nuisance to residents as revellers played music from their cars at such loud levels it made the windows of her apartment vibrate.

“You can’t even enjoy your own property like sitting on your patio outside,” she said.

There was ongoing drinking of alcohol in public, despite laws to the contrary, she said. “This is a huge concern as intoxicated people can fall into the river very easily and as well as children that are not being attended to and monitored by their intoxicated care givers and parents.”

In addition to that, drunk people were getting into their cars and driving, she said.

“Intoxicated people [are] speeding and spinning their cars’ [wheels] at night in Beach View Road.”

Littering was also pervasive at the picnic spot and at West Beach, she said, and was being blown by the wind into the Kowie River and the sea.

She said she understood the area was intended for public enjoyment, but there was no supervision and it was impacting on her quality of life.

She also contacted the SAPS liquor inspector Clayton Gombert, but has received no reply from him either.

In her letter to Gombert, she referred to a conversation with a police officer when she had called the police station on October 30.

She said the police officer had argued with her about what constitutes law-breaking, and told her he did not believe that the music was disturbing the residents’ peace, that people may go to the beach and go and enjoy themselves and are allowed to fill their cooler box with whatever they want, and that police have more important crimes to deal with.

“The police and municipality cannot turn a blind eye and avoid this any longer.  It cannot be expected that home owners be prisoners in their own homes and close up every door and window to have some peace and quiet,” Gibson said.

The public is warned that it is a criminal offence to consume liquor in public spaces such as municipal parks, beaches, and other amenities as per the Eastern Cape Liquor Act

In response to TotT’s queries, police spokesperson Sergeant Majola Nkohli said: “The South African Police Service has noted the allegation from Natalie Gibson, and has since forwarded it to the Station Commander of SAPS Port Alfred for an internal investigation.

“In relation to liquor consumption on municipal beaches, parks and other amenities, these areas are deemed as public places, and policing is conducted according to the Liquor Act,” Majola continued.

“The public is warned that it is a criminal offence to consume liquor in public spaces such as municipal parks, beaches, and other amenities as per the Eastern Cape Liquor Act.”

He said matters relating to noise pollution are dealt with in terms of the municipal bylaws of a particular municipality, and these differ in every municipality, with varying fines and as per the magisterial district.

Gibson also contacted newly appointed ward councillor, Nadine Haynes, who said: “I appreciate your concerns and valid complaints regarding the braai areas at Guido’s and the total disregard of the litter on the beaches as indicated.

“I will take this matter up with Capt Barkhuizen at the SAPS and certainly address the response you had when reporting the matter and work together with them in finding a solution for the problem. I will also address the matter with the officials at the community protection services department.”