Durban - A nudist beach in KwaZulu-Natal could crack open a multimillion-rand international tourism market, but locals on the South Coast who are fighting an application for such a beach say it will attract perverts and invite rape.
On Monday more than 100 stakeholders, representing thousands of people, attended a heated meeting organised by Hibiscus Coast Municipality to discuss the application by the KZN Naturists’ Association.
The naturists want 500 metres of Mpenjati Beach – near the Blue Flag Trafalgar Beach and the Mpenjati Nature reserve – declared nudist-friendly, said Sibusiso Nzimande, from the municipality.
Before this could be considered by the local authority there had to be a public consultation.
In the debate residents turned on each other
with those vehemently against the nudist beach criticising the determined few who favoured the naturist way of life.
The nudists, however, accused their detractors of being “narrow-minded” and not having the area’s economy at heart which, they said, would reap the rewards of an official nudist beach.
Athol Lutge, chairman of the South African National Naturist Association, said France hosted 3.5 million naturist visitors a year while Germany was home to 7 million naturists who used its nude beaches or holidayed at destinations in Europe where nude beaches were proclaimed.
“The euro is a powerful currency and there is a huge demand worldwide for holiday destinations that have nude beaches. Our weather is fantastic; there is no reason they would not want to come here,” he said.
For Thanda Ncane, who represented 120 000 to 150 000 people from two local tribal communities, the issue boiled down to two things: the first being culture, as the proposed nudist beach was in an area where people did not approve of such behaviour, and the second was crime.
“We are worried about crime. In our communities people are getting raped in our homes, they are getting raped in our public spaces.
“So the criminals will commit crimes against (the nudists). Money then set aside for use in our communities will have to be used to protect them.”
Representing the Christian community, Pastor Jerry Jula said even though humans were born naked, nudity was a shame. And so they too were against a nudist beach.
“We are worried about the mindset of South Africans. I worry about our moral decay. We have an issue with pornography and indecency.”
Among the arguments for the application was that Mpenjati Beach was not often frequented.
But resident Pieter Muller said nudist beaches should be away from “normal” people, which the Mpenjati Beach was not – and Amanda Foster, a member of naturist body Sanna, took exception.
“I am a mother of three kids and have eight grandkids. I don’t agree with people thinking I am weird,” she said.
“I have never known anyone to be raped on the beach and I have never been approached by anyone on the beach.”
Many present at the debate became so emotional they were visibly shaking.
One was resident Reyna Joubert.
“If people want to be nude, then they must do so in their own homes. I have no problem with that.
“I walk around naked at home. But when I see myself in the mirror I look just like those people I have seen on nudist beaches, everything droops. And I don’t want to see droopy boobs and bums. If they want to do that they must stay in the bush,” she said.
Gavin Macdonell shouted: “But we don’t want to stay in the bush.”
He was emphatic that Mpenjati Beach was hardly used.
“I use that beach five days a week and have done so for six years. Out of everyone in this room I have only ever seen four of you there.”
This drew loud denial from the majority of residents, with a chorus of raised voices exclaiming how often they used the beach.
People also often rode horses there, they said.
Manfred Schmitke, who has lived in Trafalgar since 1986, said those against the beach were “narrow-minded”.
“These people could bring us economic growth. They will be coming to our area, sitting in our restaurants. All the horses do anyway is leave behind horse s***.”
The issue will be decided at the Hibiscus Coast municipal council meeting next week.