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'We've broken no rules': Surf's up for Durban beach ban protesters

Surfing protesters were warned by police to steer clear of the ocean in Durban on Wednesday.
Surfing protesters were warned by police to steer clear of the ocean in Durban on Wednesday.
Image: Supplied

A group of Durban surfers defied the government's beach ban by taking to the water to protest against restrictions on Wednesday.

The group, all members of Surfing South Africa, started their protest at New Pier and were soon thereafter ordered out of the water by the police before receiving a warning to steer clear of the ocean.

According to regulations, gazetted by co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on 11 January, a beach is defined as the “sandy, pebbly or rocky shore between the high-water mark and low-water mark adjacent to the sea, or an estuary mouth extending 1,000m inland from the mouth; and within 100m of the high-water mark”.

Jean-Marc Tostee, a surfer for more than 40 years, said they did not believe they had broken any rules or Covid-19 safety protocols.

Tostee, 57, said the group hadn’t approached the sand, but instead entered the ocean via a boat.

“We purposefully chartered a boat and we entered the sea through the harbour mouth,” he said

“We took the boat beyond the shark nets, so the boat followed all the right rules.

“We then dropped out deep at sea, paddled over the shark nets and all the way to the break. We surfed for an hour. We had fun.

“You're allowed to play soccer, allowed to go to the gym, as long as the right protocols are followed.

“So we followed all protocols - we wore our masks, and kept a social distance and then jumped off the boat. Then we paddled out isolated and surfed our own separate waves, and we left the sea, paddled back to the boat.

“So in our eyes we haven't broken any laws.

“The next step from here is for us to work within the law. We believe that surfing is legal, so we've taken up a further legal opinion.”

Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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