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Locals bummed as nudist beach opens on South Coast

05 April 2015 - 10:45 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER

More than 100 naturists defied the threat of arrest and a confrontation with angry residents at KwaZulu-Natal's first nudist beach as they let everything hang loose at the unofficial opening this weekend.

On Friday, Hibiscus Coast Municipality averted a crisis when Margate police and the Concerned Citizens Group arrived at Trafalgar Beach to arrest the group, among them a pastor and businessmen, who had travelled from all over South Africa for the long weekend.

The 250m stretch of beach, which falls under the Mpenjati Nature Reserve, was given official nude-beach status by the municipality in November.

But despite the green light from the municipality, a group of irate residents from neighbouring towns remain vehemently opposed to it.

The Concerned Citizens Group argues that although the municipality has given the go-ahead, the proposed bylaw changes authorising the nude beach have not yet been passed.

The Rev Mike Effanga, who heads the group, said he had opened a charge of flouting municipal bylaws with Margate police. "They are in violation of the beach bylaws, which are yet to change. We cannot accept any contravention of the law."

According to the laws, "No person shall be on the seashore or in the sea or any other place to which these bylaws apply, other than a booth, toilet or change room, unless so dressed that, if a female, her nipples are concealed from view and, if a male or female, [their] private parts are concealed from view, and in each case by a suitable article of opaque clothing."

However, the municipality intervened and asked the police to back off. Spokesman Simon April said: "Police were misinformed and we had to explain that council still stands by its resolution."

April said the official opening of the beach was delayed because the council was still dealing with objections. "The delay does not mean council is not convinced [about its] position on the matter. We made a presentation to the portfolio committee for economic development and tourism recently. They recognise that the nude beach is a potential catalyst for tourism," said April.

The red tape hold up did not stop naturists from hitting the beach stark naked yesterday to surf or skinny dip.

Serge Pavlovic, chairman of the South African National Naturist Association, said the police had no grounds to arrest them.

"We are here legally. There is a lot of emotion around this - people don't understand that naturists want to be one with nature. There is nothing sexual about this," he said.

A Johannesburg pastor, who did not want to be named, said going nude did not "take anything away from my religion".

"In fact, it has brought me closer to God," she said. "But I have to keep this a secret - my church will not understand."

An agreed-upon list of no-nos drawn up by the municipality and the naturists' organisation include no photographs unless permission is granted and no sexual contact of any kind.