Nude bathing halted at Mpenjati Beach

2016-12-18 06:04
Nudity at a beach in Mpenjati, which is about 140km south of Durban, has been halted for now. (Picture: Tebogo Letsie)

Nudity at a beach in Mpenjati, which is about 140km south of Durban, has been halted for now. (Picture: Tebogo Letsie)

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Durban - Naturalists wanting to get it all off at KwaZulu-Natal’s first official nudist beach in Mpenjati will have to wait until the middle of next month for the outcome of an investigation by the Public Protector.

The nude bathing was temporarily halted after local religious leaders asked Busisiwe Mkhwebane to strip the 250m of coastline of the official “kaalgat” status it was given by the Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality.

While the stretch of property at Trafalgar Beach on the south coast has been an unofficial haven for nude bathers for the past 30 years, it received local government approval in 2014 from the local municipality, which was aware of its existence and also convinced of the tourism potential of nude bathing in the Hibiscus Coast area.

However, the proclamation was opposed by local religious leaders, led by Reverend Mike Effanga and other conservative groups, including the Concerned Citizens’ Forum.

Their objection was also motivated by the fact that the bylaw to legalise the beach – about 140km south of Durban – as a nudist venue had not been formalised or gazetted.

Effanga, who could not be reached for comment, asked the Public Protector’s office to investigate the effect of the beach’s nude status on young people in the area. In October, a team from the Public Protector’s office visited the beach, which is adjacent to the 66 hectare Mpenjati Nature Reserve.

Municipal spokesperson Nomusa Zulu said the municipality had been advised not to encourage nude bathing until a decision had been made by the Public Protector.

“The matter is not entirely resolved and things have been put in abeyance until the office of the Public Protector provides us with an outcome,” Zulu said.

“Since everything has been put on hold around the beach, we would not encourage people to use it for that purpose at this stage,” she said.

Zulu said they expected the protection services personnel on duty in the area this festive season to “enforce the law” should people insist on letting it all hang out – which could offend other beachgoers.

Christo Bothma, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the SA Naturalists’ Association, said they believed the Public Protector would rule in their favour and that a decision was expected by the second week in January.

“We are hopeful that there will be a good ruling. In the meantime, people are still using the beach,” he said.

“We were asked not to promote [nudity] at the beach, but people are still making a point of going nude.”

The Public Protector’s spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, said the investigation was at an advanced stage.

Meanwhile, authorities are geared up for a flood of holiday-makers into the province’s prime beaches in Durban and other tourist hot spots. Durban’s first week of the holiday season went off relatively smoothly, with no drownings reported and 49 bathers rescued by city lifesavers by Friday. The lifesavers and medical staff treated about 120 people for bluebottle stings and other minor injuries.

Beaches are being cleaned up three times a day by 130 city cleaning staff, who had already collected more than 124 500 tons of litter along the Golden Mile by Friday.

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala told City Press that tourists were expected to spend around R2.3 billion in KwaZulu-Natal this festive season. They also expected about 162 000 international arrivals and 1.2 million domestic tourists to visit the province this season.

Zikalala said tourism authorities were expecting a 9% increase in tourists compared with last year and said most major hotels were already booked in excess of 75% by Friday.

Read more on:    busisiwe mkhwebane  |  durban  |  nudity

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