Johannesburg - Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane on Friday, cautioned against discriminatory practices at beaches across South Africa.
“South Africa has just under 3 000 km with numerous beaches designated for the public’s enjoyment and recreation. Everyone has a right to access these beaches and public amenities, as contained in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) (ICM Act),” Mokonyane said.
Her department said that there were reports of alleged interference and racial profiling of beachgoers by private security firms, allegedly in cahoots with the Metro Police in the City of Cape Town, which was unconstitutional and illegal.
“No private persons or entities may interfere with the rights of citizens to access and enjoy our beaches and I hope the City of Cape Town will investigate reported incidents and make public findings in this regard," she said.
"South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no spaces are for the exclusive use of any citizens based on their race, gender or creed.”
Her department said that government had a duty to manage, protect and enhance the interests of the whole community to ensure that the natural resources within the coastal areas are used in a socially, economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable manner for the benefit of current and future generations.
"Access to natural resources including the beach is a constitutional right enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. It is thus unlawful, in terms of the ICM Act to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach," her department said.
"Most importantly, the ICM Act also requires the users of coastal public property to exercise duty of care, while they enjoy these facilities. It is in this regard that Minister Mokonyane appeals to tourists and holiday-makers that, while they enjoy the splendour of these facilities they do so in a manner that does not compromise the integrity of the environment."
A furore erupted this week after it emerged that beachgoers were instructed to leave Cape Town's world-famous Clifton Fourth Beach. The actions by private security company PPA sparked outrage, with many people drawing parallels between that and apartheid-era legislation and action which saw black people prohibited from frequenting beaches set aside for whites.
Protests and sit-ins have been planned for Clifton in the coming days.
The City of Cape Town has denied any involvement in the incident and accused the P PA of overstepping its mandate by forcing the closure of the beach.
African News Agency (ANA)