DA councillor outraged over ‘African Bathing Beach’ sign in Durban

NEws24 reported that at Durban – A eThekwini ward councillor doing a site visit on Durban’s Laguna Beach on Wednesday morning was shocked when he spotted an electricity box with signage reading “African Bathing Beach”.

DA Councillor Martin Meyer said he immediately took a photograph and e-mailed the City a request to have the offending signage removed.

But the Municipality told News24 that it has no intention of removing the sign as it considers it to be “a historical artefact similar to the statues”.

“The City told me that there are processes that need to be followed before removing or renaming the electricity box,” Meyer said.

Meyer said that when the beach was upgraded last year, City officials must have seen the electricity box.

“They need to get rid of it because it is offensive to a large part of our community. I suppose it is offensive to all South Africans. It is a reminder of our dark and painful past.

“As a councillor in the area, I do not want people to feel excluded or segregated at the beach.

“The City is making all the right noises, but we need to do something about it. They are dragging their feet.

“I am going to follow the matter up by asking our caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango to raise the matter in exco,” said Meyer.

“I find it hard to believe that 21 years into our democracy, this has not yet been rectified.”

He said the municipality needed to either give the electricity box a less offensive name, or erect an information board educating people of the history of segregated beaches, adding that this may be an opportunity to educate Durban residents and tourists about South Africa’s history.

The City’s deputy head of electricity Roy Wienand said in response to Meyer’s e-mail that substations were historically named after the areas they fed or the roads they were in.

“The names and numbers of substations are on multiple documents, files and control systems so in terms of safety and asset management… we will need to change all the records so that we don’t have any admin or safety problems in the future. Please bear with us while the process is done.”

EThekwini spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa told News24: “Some of these signs are historical artefacts similar to the statues that were erected during the apartheid regime. These have been allowed to remain to remind us of the road we have travelled as a country.”

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