As you may or may not know, in South Africa, oceans goers and more specifically bodyboarding, surfing and canoeing, have not been allowed in the water since 27 March 2020. This has been due to a complete lockdown of borders and cities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In this time many people have been affected by the virus, pay cuts and losing jobs being of the very few. In this time there is a group of us ocean lovers that have also been ban from entering the ocean and not allowed to ride waves or even bathe at any point of the lockdown.
Joys came when late last week the level 3 change from our current level 4 would soon ensue. It was being said that that would allow parks, beaches and other public facilities to open. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case and a bunch of unnecessary measures have been put in place. When it comes to the idea of getting in the water, believe me I am so excited for that first dip and I cannot wait to catch some waves on my bodyboard. But here stems the issues that I am following with the current situation.
Like me, I’m sure all sports people eagerly listening to the Minister of Sport, Nathi Mthethwa early on Saturday morning. He suggested that the surfers and other ocean goers may get the opportunity to join cyclists, runners and other groups of land based exercises in enjoying their non-contact ocean sport. This was a relief and to many people a surprise when he brought up that it was only possible for professionals to be training and enjoying the water. So how do I prove to someone that I am a professional??? I have no idea. Yes my abilities and being able to live off my sponsorships are surely a promising insight but how are we to go about getting that permit/shown to the officers coming to check.
To date I have been combing the internet trying to find answers to the question of how do we show them I am a professional. Many companies have jumped on board in a way to show that they are “sponsoring” riders but how is this going to help? And so after much anxiety, thoughts and wondering I decided to say why I will not be riding tomorrow on Monday the 1st June 2020 as we go into level 3. The situation on whether we can surf or not is a huge grey area.
The simple fact is that I am scared of getting caught doing something I am not supposed to in this crazy time. For all South Africans, the government has stated in that they will be out there and prosecuting people for anything illegal. Today I have heard of 3 different groups of surfers getting arrested and fined. Is it worth that fine? Maybe… but my concerns don’t lie with the fines received but more with what if I get a criminal record. At this stage I don’t know what the offence will be or how it will be enforced.
As I do travel for work and I also do travel for holidays at around 6 months of the year, as well as getting visas for countries at least twice a year, a criminal record could somehow bring to a standstill my efforts on getting visas or ever traveling again. Traveling on a South African passport is not easy as it is, can you imagine doing it with a record… impossible! So my statement is this, “I will not be bodyboarding until such time I am 100% legally able to do so!” I am standing on the side of caution and maybe worst case scenario, but that is me and how I was brought up.
Now I know this is tough to think of and I know everyone is itching to get back in the water but the law is the law. The options are simple from what I can see: ride some waves illegally (or not at this point) or get a fine and a possible criminal record. This is not an easy thing to do and I as a professional who gets in the sea any chance I can, I understand it’s tough but the repercussions for the latter could be a lifetime of affect.
Stay safe everybody and enjoy your day!