Minister Marais Learns To Surf To Raise Awareness On Water Safety | Western Cape Government

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Minister Marais Learns To Surf To Raise Awareness On Water Safety

6 November 2015

The summer season is upon us and typically the December school holidays as well. As a coastal province, it is usually during this time that we experience a spike in drowning incidents. Since 2011, according to the Forensic Pathology Service, there have been 735 drowning incidents reported in the Western Cape:

Financial year

Drowning incidents












These high numbers are concerning and show a need for awareness to be raised on water safety, especially amongst our youth. It is for this reason that Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais has embarked on a month long awareness drive: Water Safety through Aqua Sport.

The launch of this initiative took place yesterday at Strandfontein Pavilion where Minister Marais learnt to surf with children from the community.  Facilitating the lesson was Nigel Savel, founder of the 9Miles Project. The 9Miles Project is a youth and community development Non-Profit Organisation that uses surfing as a platform for transformation by focusing on vulnerable youth in Cape Town. Savel incorporates water safety awareness through swimming and surfing lessons in a fun and informative way.

Caleb Swanepoel, the 20 year old from Prince Albert, who survived a shark attack at Buffels Bay on 27 June 2015, accompanied Minister Marais to the event. He shared with the crowd of children his miraculous experience, personal tips on water safety and indeed inspired them to conquer any challenges they are facing.

Before making her way to the water, Minister Marais commended Savel and Swanepoel on the extraordinary contribution they selflessly make to bring about positive change in our communities through aqua sport.

Minister Marais said, “At the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport we encourage excellence and inclusiveness in sport and culture through creative partnerships. Although learning to surf had my heart racing, it was so worthwhile to launch this creative partnership with the 9Miles Project and Caleb Swanepoel. Initiatives like theirs not only raise awareness about water safety, but will have a long lasting positive impact on the children who hear Caleb’s story. In Caleb and Nigel they now have two new role models to inspire them”.

Minister Marais’ next stop on her water safety agenda is Mossel Bay where she will learn to sail with the Garden Route Sailing Academy. Minister Marais will join children from the community as they are taught more about this sport.  

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for Anroux Marais, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport
Tel: 021 483 4426
Cell: 083 504 1171