Durban - South African naturists were left disappointed on Tuesday after the Hibiscus Coast Municipality failed to make a decision on an application for the establishment of a nudist-friendly beach on the South Coast.
Instead, councillors took the opportunity to ask questions of the SA National Naturist Association (Sanna) and seek clarity on the naturist movement. They will now discuss the matter with their political parties.
Feedback from the Wildlife Environmental Society of South Africa and Ezemvelo Wildife – as the portion of beach in question falls within the Mpenjati Nature Reserve area – is also still outstanding.
The association’s president, Athol Lutge, who, along with Amanda Foster – also of the association – found himself answering a barrage of questions from councillors unfamiliar with nudist-friendly beaches or the code of conduct surrounding them.
l Will there be separate beaches for male and female nudists?
l How do naturists plan to ensure their safety at the beach, and at whose cost?
l Was the association’s application “married” to Mpenjati Beach, or could another beach be found?
l Will the beach still be open to the public?
l How do councillors present the idea of “naked people on a beach” to their African constituents unfamiliar with the naturist concept?
l How do they ensure that the beach does not turn into an area used for sexual activity?
Lutge explained that such beaches were open to the public and would not be separated into gender-specific areas.
“We are open to all races and genders, grandparents and grandchildren, gay and straight people. Everyone is welcome. Naturism is not a sexual thing. It’s like when you shower in your home, you are used to showering without clothes. So to shower with clothes does not feel normal. That is what it is like for us.
“It has nothing to do with sex.” He said naturists respected each other. However, security was an issue.
“But we, as naturists, like to control it. We don’t like swearing or sexual interference. And if someone does something we do not agree with, then we will politely ask them to leave.”
The association was, however, not too concerned about which beach it was given to use, but needed somewhere private, away from homes.
“We can go to any beach the municipality allows us,” Lutge said, adding that although members of the public would not be prohibited from using the beach, there would be signs indicating they were entering a nudist-friendly area.
Regarding the terminology councillors could use to explain naturism to their constituents, he said it was important that they be known as naturists and not nudists or naked people.
A woman councillor asked whether there was an age restriction, to which Lutge humourously replied that “she was still young enough” to join them.
Speaking to The Mercury, Lutge said he was disappointed a decision was not taken, but understood the municipality needed all the information to make a decision.
The association would not give up, though, he said.