Nudist beach opening clouded with confusion

The naturists’ bus parked at Mpenjati beach over the weekend.

AFTER months of applications, appeals and public backlashes, hundreds of naturists descended on the Mpenjati beach near Trafalgar over the Easter weekend for some fun in the sun.

However, the naturists first ‘trial-run opening’ on the secluded part of the beach last Friday started clouded in confusion.

When Reverend Mike Effanga, chairman of the Concerned Citizens of the Hibiscus Coast Municipality noted a gathering of naturists on the beach, he, together with police, visited Mpenjati beach.

Rev Effanga told the group of naturists that they were contravening the municipal by-law. He gave them a copy of the  by-law and informed them that the beach had not yet officially received final approval and designation as a nudist beach.

He pointed out that HCM still had to take a decision whether to rescind its decision, based on a presentation by himself on behalf of CCG, as well as the opinion of the KZN provincial authorities.

“That decision was deferred by HCM council until the next full council meeting later this month,” said Rev Effanga.

In response, the naturists put their clothes back on. Acting station commander of Margate police station, Lieutenant-Colonel Sipho Thabethe arrived and, after many phone calls, he finally got hold of HCM speaker, Ronnie Nair.

According to Rev Effanga, Mr Nair said that the final approval decision had been taken and that the area had been designated for the naturists. They should carry on enjoying themselves.

“Upon hearing this, they then promptly took their clothes off,” said Rev Effanga.

He told the Herald that Mr Nair had given the naturists the ‘illegal green light’ to violate municipal by-laws, Section 5.1 and 5.2, which had not been changed.

“HCM has undemocratically and illegally handled this process,” he added.

He said that meetings with community leaders and pastors would be held to discuss a legal way forward and they will also approach the public protector, Thuli Madonsela.

Simon April, spokesman for HCM, said  when council took a resolution to approve the application on October 28, it relaxed Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the beach by-laws for that demarcated area of the beach.

He went on to say that the issue of officially opening the beach is optional and the municipality had taken a stance of indefinitely postponing it as there were engagements with the Concerned Citizens of HCM.

He explained that, while the municipality discouraged use of the beach until everything was finalised, it should be noted that there was no wrong-doing by the naturists as the decision of council was still in existence.

Mr April said the municipality was still processing the submissions by the Concerned Citizens and it was hoped that council would be able to take a decision in the near future.

“The municipality, for now, together with the naturists, has erected warning signs on the beach and also the Code of Conduct,” he added.

Serge Pavlovic, national chairperson of the South African National Naturists’ Association, said he was ‘over the moon’ about the weekend, describing it as a ‘great success and absolutely fantastic’.

“We have received no complaints, only positive responses and feedback,” he said. He thanked the local authorities for the manner in which they handled Friday’s incident and said that they would continue to co-operate with HCM.

Mr Pavlovic said this was a massive tourism boost for the South Coast, with people visiting from around South Africa. He added that a tour operator from Europe had visited the beach at the beginning of March as he was interested in starting up specialised naturist tours.


Shona Aylward

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