Media Hail Lack of Conflict on Integrated Beaches
Jan. 03, 1990
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ State radio and a major black newspaper on Wednesday hailed the lack of racial conflict on newly integrated beaches that drew huge holiday crowds.
Police in Durban and Cape Town, the two largest summer vacation destinations, said there had been no serious racial incidents during the long New Year's weekend despite the opening of the last whites-only beaches on the orders of President F.W. de Klerk.
''What this demonstrates is that the skies will not fall when insulting petty apartheid laws are dropped,'' said The Sowetan, the largest-selling black-oriented daily. ''The country's economy will improve. There will be a feeling of hope among South Africa's people.''
It said beach segregation ''was a monstrous act of expensive racism.''
Cape Town police reported one shooting incident at a beachfront parking lot, and Durban police said there were 53 arrests at local beaches from Friday through Tuesday. A black man was fatally stabbed in a fight, and a policeman suffered a knife wound in another incident in Durban, but The Sowetan said police there showed ''considerable restraint'' despite occasional taunting from blacks on the beaches.
The loudest criticism of beach integration came from the far-right Conservative Party, which said the government was destroying ''white community life.''
Koos van der Merwe, the party's chief spokesman, said beaches had been littered and ''civilized standards disregarded'' during a weekend in which beaches had been ''swamped by blacks.''
Provincial Affairs Minister Hermanus Kriel rejected van der Merwe's criticisms, saying it was ''unjust and racist'' to blame only blacks for problems at the beaches. He said the National Party government would assist local authorities in improving seaside facilities to accommodate larger crowds.
Hotel owners around Durban said their facilities were as full as in previous years despite predictions that some whites from inland areas would stay away.
Authorities said about 150,000 people, more than 90 percent of them black, packed Durban's beachfront on New Year's Day. Mayor Derrick Waterson said ''nothing abnormal'' occurred.
The state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. said in a commentary the abolition of beach segregation ''has succeeded beyond the hopes of even the most sanguine.''
''Among the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Natal and Cape beaches over the Christmas and New Year's weekends, not one incident of racial confrontation of any note was reported,'' the SABC said. ''The incident free holiday-making ... reflects the extent to which the last decade's reforms has fostered attitudes of mutual acceptance among the country's diverse communities.''