Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga is in the final stages of completing a report that will determine if the November 2014 decision to turn the Penjati Beach on the KZN South Coast into a nude-friendly zone will be reversed.

The then Hibiscus Coast Municipality (it has since been renamed Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality) acceded to an application by nudists to turn the coastline between Trafalgar and Palm Beaches, near Margate, into a nude beach.

But a group of pastors and traditional leaders opposed the decision and organised a protest march to pressure the municipality into reversing its decision. They also approached then public protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate how the municipality allowed the decision.

In December 2016, Madonsela’s successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, ordered that the decision to turn the beach nudist friendly be reversed until her office had been able to probe the matter and make a final report. Mkhwebane appointed her deputy, Malunga, to handle the matter by presiding over the public hearings and hearing submissions from pro-and anti-nude beach lobby groups.

Kevin Malunga.  Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Kevin Malunga. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

Oupa Segalwe, spokesman for the office of the public protector, told Business Day on Tuesday a team led by Malunga was hard at work concluding the final report.

"I can confirm that investigations into the matter has been concluded. What is happening now is the analysing all the evidence gathered during the interactions with several groups.

"We wouldn’t like to be drawn into setting up time frames and saying when this report would be made public…. we will inform the public when it will be made public. But we hope that it will be as soon as possible."

Pastor Reggie John of the Concerned Citizen’s Association said they were eagerly awaiting the final report. He said the public protector had promised the communities she would conclude the report and make it public by mid-January 2017.

"We had made our submission when we were invited by the office of the public protector to do so.

"Our opposition to the nude beach is based on moral and ethical grounds. We also contend there will be no economic benefit from making the nude beach here. The nude beach will affect the morals of society and corrupt the young people who walk to the beach.

"We are eagerly awaiting this report and we hope it will go our way. If it doesn’t it will not be the end of this matter because to make a nude beach they will have to change the laws. At the moment going nude in public is a punishable crime under public indecency.

"If the authorities want to change that they will first have to have public hearings and seek public submissions and there we will get another chance to argue our case," he said.

An executive member of the KZN Nudist Association, who asked not to be named, said they had made the submission under the umbrella of the South African National Nudist Association (Sanna).

"We also made a good case for what we believe in. Now it is up to the public protector to make a determination. We are confident that they will rule that even nudists must have a certain corner on South Africa’s vast coastline where they can bathe freely in the nude without breaking any law," he said.

Sanna’s newly elected chairman, Lofty Lutge, was not available for comment on Tuesday.

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