Surfers of JBay Unite to Keep People Out of the Water as R5000 Fine Introduced

Craig Jarvis

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Updated 55d ago

The world needs time to beat the coronavirus. The more people who stay at home, the more likely it is that we can all pull through this together. So we're creating and curating content that can can help you shred indoors and stave off lockdown blues. You can find all of that, HERE - JL, editor.

Today, Monday April 6, is day 11 of the lockdown in South Africa. No travel unless essential, i.e. going to buy groceries, going to the chemist or going to a doctor. Everything else is closed. The selling of alcohol and cigarettes is also banned.

When our president Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement two weeks ago of a national state of disaster, we got prepared, and we bought some groceries and booze (and cigarettes, some of us…) for the weeks to come. 

Patrolling the streets in SA.

Patrolling the streets in SA.

© 2020 - Paweł Janiak

To help with the lockdown, the army was called in. Soldiers were deployed, and there was a show of force around the country.

The South African authorities have what has been called a brutal and heavy-handed approach to those under lockdown. Zero tolerance to those disobeying the lockdown orders. The shit is real. 

To date, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has recorded six alleged killings by police in the first week of lockdown. These deaths were alleged as police were reacting to citizens disobeying the lockdown orders.

IPID is the body mandated to investigate criminal complaints against the police service in South Africa.

The current death tally from COVID-19 sits at 11 deaths in South Africa, with 1655 infections, but this number is obviously set to rise, and it could increase quite quickly and steeply. 

We can all sense that our world is about to be turned upside down, and it is a world that doesn't include surfing anymore. Beaches are closed, surfing has been banned. There are many weeks to come, of sitting and waiting. 

Want to surf JBay? Try shredding it on True Surf instead. See HERE.

Many surfers who tried to go surfing initially, were asked to get out of the water across the country. Most of them were warned while some were fined. 

The second offence is a jail sentence of 6 months. If you can't afford your R5,000 first offence, then you go straight to jail... Surfers, however, are a resolute bunch and it feels we have all moved on. The reality of our situation had not set in when the lockdown was initiated, and mistakes were made. Now it has. We now understand, as hard as it is. We are not moving. We are all staying home. Factories stand empty, while dust and sand are both settling in on the streets. Surf shops are closed, bottle stores are shut. Staying at home is the right thing to do. It is everyman's effort of fighting together against an invisible enemy. 

South Africa is a harsh country at times. While we all want to surf, every day, it's just not part of the government strategy. It's not about surfing, it's about groups of people gathering, of driving to the beaches, of hanging out in car parks. No fishing, no diving, no kayaking, no SUPing. No hanging on the beach. No walking your dogs on the beaches. No yoga.

The beaches, obviously, are deserted. If you do chance a quick walk or run on the beach, your neighbours will have a photo of you on Facebook by the time you get back, and it would have been shared to the local authorities. It's as real as it gets.

It's an obvious statement, but if we have a natural disaster, like a tsunami or an earthquake, surfers will obviously look out for each other. They would most likely be an intrinsic part of health and safety. We are, as a whole, well versed in various methods of survival. It comes from surf travel, big waves, dangerous conditions, reef injuries, and dare I say it, shark attacks. Surfers are often the ones who stand up to be counted when the shit hits the fan. The locals at Supers, one of the tightest of our clans, decided that solidarity is the best way to deal with this shit storm and will ultimately get them back into the water. The sooner they get this done, the faster they can return to doing what they love

The locals at Supers, one of the tightest of our clans, decided that solidarity is the best way to deal with this and will ultimately get them back into the water. The sooner they get this done, the faster they can return to doing what they love.

There is going to be a very new and genuine appreciation of the beaches and of surfing when we get out of here when we can all go surfing again. There might be more tolerance in the water, or there might be closing in of the ranks and spots become more localised again. 

Now the locals here, and at most other surf spots around the country, are united again, and want this thing to end. They are thinking ahead, while in many places around the world surfers continue to defy lockdown rules, continue to insult and antagonise authorities and continue to go surfing.

If they're not, these surfers are signing pointless petitions as to why they should be allowed to go surfing, while every other sporting body in the world should remain behind closed doors. We can look on. We know what's coming. It's a matter of time. In New Zealand surfers are flouting the rules and paddling out regardless.

In Australia, it has finally started happening. The Superbank and other beaches have been closed. In South Africa, the surfers have settled in. They are patiently sitting it out as a collective, until the day they can go surfing again. 

The next few days are going to be extremely testing on the east coast if you look at the charts. Be strong girls and guys and shred indoors instead.

Cover shot by Ant Fox.