Durban - It’s official: KwaZulu-Natal has its first nudist beach. On Tuesday the Hibiscus Coast Municipality granted an application by the KwaZulu-Natal Naturist Association to declare a 500m portion of Mpenjati Beach, near the Blue Flag Trafalgar Beach, nudist-friendly.
The South Coast municipality has also “relaxed” the by-laws that prohibit nudity on its beaches.
The decision to approve the nudist-friendly beach was made by the council after months of research and consultation with residents and other stakeholders, and comes despite vociferous opposition to the proposal.
Opposing arguments were made by hundreds of local residents and others living in the surrounding rural areas. Some argued that a nudist beach would attract perverts and rapists and encourage crime against nudists, while others said people should only walk around nude in their own homes.
However, municipal spokesman Simon Soboyiso said the council found that the opposition was not based on “objective facts” but, rather, on beliefs and social orientation.
“The municipality underwent a thorough process of research and consultation... The application tested the resoluteness of the municipality in practising the sections of our constitution which say that no one should be discriminated against,” said Soboyiso. “We also considered that having such a beach would be a marketing platform to attract national and international tourists. This will lead to job creation and economic development.”
However, although the application had been approved, it would still be some time before naturists could frequent the beach, as a coastal access application needed to be finalised with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.
Such an application was for ablution facilities and signage to inform beachgoers that they were entering a naturist-friendly area. Soboyiso said this could take a month or two.
“But we still have a right in terms of approving the beach, even without this application being completed,” he said.
Athol Lutge, chairman of the SA National Naturist Association, which presented the application to the municipality and of which the newly formed KZN Naturist Association is part, said he was pleased and “very surprised”.
“We thought we had a 50/50 chance of it being approved. But being a practical guy, when they announced their decision, my head started already spinning with all the work and planning that now needs to be done in terms of the coastal access application.
“I don’t know how long it will take, but I am hoping it will be done before World Naturists Day, which is on December 14. We are having a function at Sandy Bay in Cape Town and would like to have something similar here too on the South Coast.”
Lutge said it was important to educate people on what naturism was about, as many were asking whether there was an age limit for the beach and if children were allowed.
“The beach is for anybody and everybody. It is for great-grandmothers and grandmothers and parents and children. It is not about sex at all and anyone who thinks it is, is thinking on the wrong track.”
Christo Swart, the chairman of the KZN Naturist Association, said the decision was “an awesome surprise”.
However, not everyone was happy. A Trafalgar resident, who asked not to be named, furiously objected to the proposal and said she was “very disappointed”. She added that she and other residents felt the approval was “suspicious” and “done sneakily”.
“All of those objections were ignored. We cannot believe that it was approved. The beach is in a conservation area, there is no direct road to it. And where are they going to go to use the loo? One of our strong objections was that this area is a family area.
“We believe that there will be zero benefit to Trafalgar. I cannot see people from Europe coming here, to this remote village which only has one boutique hotel – which is up for sale – and a few guest houses,” she said.