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It seems like the world is finally starting to crack down on selfies. Following a series of bans from the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, the City of Cape Town has recently banned selfies and selfie sticks after a series of misdemeanours and hefty fines this South African summer.
“People taking selfies with their smartphones are often reckless,” said Cape Town’s councillor for Tourism, Events & Marketing Abraham Disimynami in a statement to Memeburn. “Tourists are the main perpetrators in this instance.”
He explained that in January this year an Australian couple managed to injure themselves after mis-stepping at one of the cable car stations at Table Mountain.
“Table Mountain Aerial Cableway trips had to be suspended for the weekend. It cost us nearly R100 000 to shut down those two days.” Disimynami added that the woman had to be rushed to the hospital while the boyfriend was detained for a few days by SANParks authorities.
This incident with the Australians has been one of many where vanity photographers were responsible for disrupting popular tourist spots. Disimynami also told of a few times where people taking selfies stepped onto rare fynbos that is indigenous to the Table Mountain region.
In this case, a Chinese man was reportedly fined R4 500 in March for stepping — and thus damaging — a bushel of Ericas while taking a series of selfies with his family and friends near Lions Head. “We warned Mr. Wei a couple of times that he is not allowed to take photos of himself. He just didn’t listen,” the councillor said.
Although Disimynami agrees that the fine was a “bit harsh”, he did say that it’s meant to set an example for future references.
The ban on selfie sticks, Disimynami said, comes at a time the city is seeing more and more people using potentially dangerous weaponry disguised as fashion accessories.
“We see a lot of young local people walk around with sticks these days, looking for trouble,” he explained. “The City’s Council for Tourism, Events & Marketing, together with the Council for Safety & Security, have agreed that sticks of all kinds in public spaces should be prohibited.”
The ban will come into effect at 12:00 today.
Update: This is an April Fools’ Day story. The City of Cape Town has not made a statement and, as you might have guessed, Abraham Disimynami does not exist (too subtle?).