Race row after Cape Town beach cleared by guards

Like many public areas in South Africa, beaches were segregated under white-minority apartheid rule, and have since been a flashpoint of racial tension. — AFP pic
Like many public areas in South Africa, beaches were segregated under white-minority apartheid rule, and have since been a flashpoint of racial tension. — AFP pic

CAPE TOWN, Dec 28 — Authorities in Cape Town have criticised a private security company that allegedly ordered black beachgoers to leave a fashionable South African beach over the Christmas holiday.

In a statement yesterday, a senior local official dismissed claims by the PPA security firm that it was working for the city authorities when patrolling the beach at Clifton, an upmarket coastal suburb.

Beaches, like many public areas, were segregated under white-minority apartheid rule, and have since been a flashpoint of racial tension in South Africa.

Beachgoers were told to leave Clifton beach by PPA guards last Sunday, two days before Christmas.

“The city has at no stage given any authority to PPA to enforce by-laws,” Cape Town’s director for safety and security Richard Bosman said in a statement.

“The city has acted swiftly to address the conduct of PPA staff... Any person who feels that they have been threatened or intimated by PPA staff can lay a charge with the South African Police Service.”

Local activist Chumani Maxwele alleged that the guards had targeted black people on the beach, which attracts huge crowds over the holiday season.

“These private security guards are hired by the Clifton (residents), they are actually briefed to not allow black people who appear to look like they are from the townships or criminals onto the beach,” he told the News 24 website.

PPA chief executive Alwyn Landman said that the company’s guards did not close the beach, but acted to protect local residents after alleged criminal activity caused “mayhem”.

In 2016, South African estate agent Penny Sparrow likened black beachgoers to monkeys in a social media post, triggering widespread outrage. She was fined 150,000 rand (RM43,000).

In September, South African tourist Adam Catzavelos ignited another storm of protest after he used a racial slur in a phone video message from Greece, boasting that the beach had no black people on it. — AFP