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Lewd beach behaviour exposed

FOR decades the beach near uMhlanga Lagoon has been acknowledged as being an unofficial nudist beach, but, with the increased use of this beach by walkers and families, because of improved safety, there have been a number of reported ‘lewd’ incidents.

26 February 2013 | Lauren Anthony

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uMhlanga resident, Penny McAllister, contacted Northlgen News after a man exposed himself to her on the beach, near the river mouth.

McAlister said the man, who wore nothing but a white cap, was ‘fiddling with his genitals’ while he watched her.

“He made me feel very threatened, humiliated, scared and angry,” she said. “uMhlanga Beach is a public area and all members of the public should be able to walk along it with impunity. I am sick of the so-called ‘nudists’ who think they don’t have to obey the by-laws and have the right to force other people to view their naked bodies.”

She commended the uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP) on ‘making uMhlanga a premier holiday destination’ but said it was sad for women and children to be ‘threatened in this way’.

More people using beach

In the past three years, the stretch of beach from uMhlanga to the lagoon has been made safer through efforts by the UIP, KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife and the municipal parks department.

UIP project leader, Brian Wright, said the area had a serious crime problem and was a ‘no-go’ area.

“The success of this combined effort, which includes guided and two security guards posted at the Lagoon, has seen increasing numbers of walkers and families using the nature reserve and walking to the lagoon which is great to see. However, as expected, this has led to complaints about nudism and antisocial behaviour which are forwarded to the municipality,” said Wright.

Public nudity is illegal

Although public nudity and indecency is illegal in South Africa, it is often difficult to enforce.

Spokesman for Durban North police station, Lt Raymond Deokaran, said the police were aware of the site but, because of the difficulty in accessing the beach, police had a tough time enforcing the law ‘public indecency’ law.

“We have done raids at the beach before but, because it’s quite a walk, by the time we get to the beach, people have covered up,” said Lt Deokaran. “There is only one beach and it seems to be the same group of people that visit it.”

Beach is ‘generally accepted’

Ward councillor, Heinz de Boer, said there was a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that the beach was used as an ‘unofficial nudist beach’ and he’d received no complaints so far.

“I believed it’s a specific group of people that visit the beach and they seem responsible,” said De Boer. “If there are incidences where people are behaving anti-socially, people should report this to the police, but I don’t feel we can paint all the beach-users with the same brush.”

He said there was a common understanding that these beach-goers would remain near the sand dunes if naked, but would cover up when they went into the ocean.

Fighting to legalise nude beaches

Nudism or naturism is a common concept in many parts of Europe, however, it is still fairly unaccepted in the majority of South Africa.

Organisations such as Sanfed (the South African Naturist Federation) have put forward proposals to government to legalise certain beaches as ‘naturist’.

Acting president of Sanfed, Neels Theron, said it was negotiating with government, but the process would take time.

“If we legalise these beaches, then we can police this sort of anti-social behaviour,” said Theron. “It is this sort of thing that gives all naturists a bad name.”

Theron said he’d visited the uMhlanga Lagoon beach before and there was a mixture of people who go there. “It’s not always the same people but Sunday is definitely the most popular day as it’s for families. The problem with that ‘lewd’ behaviour is generally during the week.”

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