Editorial

The ugly ghosts trying to keep Clifton white by night

30 December 2018 - 00:02 By Sunday Times


The photograph circulating on social media of a bulky, bearded male in paramilitary fatigues patrolling the white sands of Clifton beach said it all.
The image was incongruous, to say the least; he might have been mistaken for a South African recce during the apartheid war with Angola.
But that he was part of a posse enforcing bylaws on SA's most iconic beach? Really? What, to ensure beach vendors sold blue ice lollies instead of pink? To bash those who violated some sun-protection factor decree with his bulletproof vest?
No, he and his fellow enforcers claimed they were concerned for the safety of beachgoers. Reports of crimes in public areas must be treated seriously, but these are for law and order agents to police, not arbitrary hired guns.
No, he and his fellow enforcers claimed they were concerned for the safety of beachgoers. Reports of crimes in public areas must be treated seriously, but these are for law and order agents to police, not arbitrary hired guns.
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs and his family were among those ordered to leave Clifton because it was "closing" at 8pm.
Were historically black beaches the target of similar safety patrols? Of course not. Many other questions have been raised, the most important being who hired the private security company and who gave it the mandate to act with impunity.
City bylaws may only be enforced by designated city officials. Cape Town officials were quick to distance themselves from the fiasco even though there were several metro cops patrolling alongside the man in the bulletproof vest.
Once again an all-too-familiar trope was playing itself out, one that involves the seemingly entitled on the one hand and ordinary South Africans on the other. A belief that anything can be acquired with the ease of ordering an expensive whisky from the comfort of a first-class seat.
That even a public resource such as SA's most famous beach can be your private playground if you have the money.
Once again there were shades of our troubled past so often re-enacted on SA's beaches. Once again the spectre of Penny Sparrow loomed over the festive season. While not as blatantly racist as the former estate agent's comments about "monkeys", this week's actions spoke loud and clear.
It was as if the man in the bulletproof vest had brought along the signs that once infested our beaches. The ones that read "Whites Only".

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