If you were hoping to head down to KZN’s Mpenjati Beach for some ‘natural’ bathing this summer, think again.
Th application for the portion of beach between Port Shepstone and Port Edward to be declared nudist friendly, first submitted to the Hibiscus Coast Municipality in 2014, has officially been rejected.
Since its opening more than three years ago, the beach has been met with a number of complications, facing backlash by a Concerned Citizens Group, who have argued against its go ahead.
According to IOL, the rejection outcome was announced by the group in Marburg on Monday, 06 November with a ruling now preventing the 500m stretch of beach near Trafalgar from becoming South Africa’s second official nudist resort.
The other of course being Sandy Bay in Cape Town – although there are no official beaches in SA where the right to bathe in the nude is protected.
The group’s Reverend Mike Effanga is quoted in the report saying, the idea of the nudist beach was “dead”.
“This is what they should have done three years ago, reject the application. They should have told the nudists to go be naked in their bathrooms like everybody else,” says Effanga.
The court found the public consultation to be improper, with Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane ruling the municipality had in fact breached its own anti-nudity policies.
Mkhwebane called it a “whitewashing and sugar-coating exercise intended to make the municipality’s unlawful act seem more appealing or pleasant when in actual fact it was unlawful and improper”.
While the aim of the beach was to benefit tourism, since “European tourists are more comfortable with nude bathing.
“I’m busy draft it as we speak. An officially designated naturist beach would attract international tourists, I know of tour operators who would love to bring naturist tourists to this beach but now won’t because they don’t want to do anything illegal.
“The Germans are much more relaxed towards nudity on the beach and in Europe there are much more naturists than here in South Africa.”
While Bothma admits they were caught by surprise with the announcement of the ruling, they will be looking at the necessary steps, “however long it takes to redraft and submit the application”.
“It’s clear what needs to be done and the steps we need to follow. As naturists we don’t want to cause conflict – we just want to go to the beach and enjoy ourselves.”
While a 30-day remedial action term had been allocated by the court, it was unlikely the bylaw would be changed within this time.
Not letting it go without an appeal, Ray Nkonyeni Municipality spokesperson Simon April says once the municipality gains sight of the report, they would seek legal advice on the way forward.