Declaration Ending Beach Segregation Generally Praised
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The mayor of one town today vowed to keep blacks off the local beach, but elsewhere there was acclaim for the president’s declaration that segregation of beaches and other public amenities would end.
″Whites-only″ signs came down on one beach near Cape Town, and a black consumer boycott of white-owned stores was called off in the industrial city of Boksburg, a year after it was launched to protest the reintroduction of segregation ordinances by the far-right Conservative Party.
″Our protest had the desired effect,″ said Danny Cassels of the Save Boksburg Committee. ″We have won the day.″
In Mossel Bay, a town on the southern coast controlled by the Conservatives, Mayor Johan Ooosthuizen said the local beaches would remain whites-only as long as possible.
But in The Strand, another coastal town in Cape Province, the town council held a special meeting Thursday night after President F.W. de Klerk’s announcement and voted to take down their ″whites-only″ beach signs immediately. In August, police used whips to chase anti-apartheid protesters off that beach.
″We are an inextricably mixed country, with blacks hugely outnumbering whites,″ said an editorial in the Citizen, a pro-government daily, welcoming the announcement. ″There is no way we can unscramble the races or go on having amenities for whites only.″
De Klerk said Thursday that the government would repeal ″as soon as possible″ the Separate Amenities Act of 1953, which allowed local officials to segregate public facilities. The act cannot be repealed before Parliament convenes in February, but the president urged local officials to open whites- only beaches immediately.
Today, Provincial Affairs Minister Hernus Kriel asked the administrators of the coastal Natal and Cape provinces to repeal all provincial beach apartheid laws. Kriel said such a move would overrule any local segregation ordinances and make town councils liable for legal action if they retained whites-only beaches.
City councilors in Durban, the largest city with segregated beaches, are to hold an emergency meeting this weekend to decide their course of action. But the mayor, Derek Watterson, said he welcomed de Klerk’s decision.
The announcement also was priased by the national chamber of commerce and tourist industry officials.
Otto Stehlik, chief executive of the Protea hotel chain, recalled an incident where a mixed-race accountant staying with his family at the chain’s Mossel Bay hotel had been forcibly removed from the segregated beach. Legislation to outlaw such practices ″could not come soon enough,″ he said.
The Separate Amenities Act has empowered white local governments to bar blacks from parks, libraries, swimming pools, civic centers, buses and public toilets.
In many communities, most or all public amenities now are open to all races. But whites-only facilities exist in the capital, Pretoria, in many rural towns, and in several small industrial cities where the Conservative Party took power in municipal elections last year.
In Boksburg, one of those Conservative-controlled cities, Mayor Beyers de Klerk - who is not related to the president - said the time had come to form a whites-only homeland.
Repeal of the Separate Amenities Act would still leave major areas of segregation in South Africa - residential neighborhoods, medical care and public education.
It also would leave intact the political system that gives the 5 million whites domination over the 32 million blacks, Asians and people of mixed-race.