Minister Mokonyane cautions against discrimination at beaches
28 December 2018
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Nomvula Mokonyane, has cautioned against discriminatory practices at beaches across the country. Reports of alleged interference and racial profiling of beachgoers by private security firms in cahoots with the Metropolitan Police in the City of Cape Town are unconstitutional and illegal.
“South Africa has just under 3000 km with numerous beaches designated for the public’s enjoyment and recreation. Everyone has a right to access these beaches and public amenities, as contained in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) (ICM Act).”
“No private persons or entities may interfere with the rights of citizens to access and enjoy our beaches and I hope the City of Cape Town will investigate reported incidents and make public findings in this regard.”
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no spaces are for the exclusive use of any citizens based on their race, gender or creed,” said Minister Mokonyane. Government, in its capacity as the public trustee of all coastal public property, has a duty to manage, protect and enhance the interests of the whole community, so as to ensure that the natural resources within the coastal areas are used in a socially, economically justifiable and ecologically sustainable manner for the benefit of the current and future generations.
Access to natural resources including the beach is a constitutional right enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. It is thus unlawful, in terms of the ICM Act to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach.
The Act stipulates that any natural person in the Republic has:
a) A right of reasonable access to coastal public property; and
b) Is entitled to use and enjoy coastal public property, provided such use-
c) Does not adversely affect the rights of members of the of the public to use and enjoy the coastal public property;
d) Does not hinder the State in the performance of its duty to protect the environment; and
e) Does not cause an adverse effect to the environment.
It is therefore unlawful for anyone to implement measures which prevent public access to the beach, not permitted under that Act. It is only under certain strict circumstances that the public’s access to the beach may be limited. In addition, under the Act, no one may charge a fee (directly or indirectly) in order to access coastal public property, without the permission of the Minister responsible for environmental affairs.
Most importantly, the ICM Act also requires the users of costal public property to exercise duty of care, while they enjoy these facilities. It is in this regard that Minister Mokonyane appeals to tourists and holiday makers that, while they enjoy the splendour of these facilities they do so in a manner that does not compromise the integrity of the environment.
The Minister wishes all beachgoers a safe and joyous festive season and calls on local authorities to implement strict measures to prevent any destruction of our natural resources and environment. This includes ensuring that beaches are clean, useable and free of pollution from unnatural sources.
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