Restau­rant in the fir­ing line over racism

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LISA ISAACS

KALK BAY res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers have lifted the lid on what they de­scribe as years of dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices by the Brass Bell restau­rant, block­ing ac­cess for mainly Cape Flats fam­i­lies from the har­bour beach over the fes­tive sea­son.

Talk­ing to The Star this week, they claimed that since 2012, the Brass Bell has grad­u­ally made ac­cess to the beach and pub­lic toi­lets more dif­fi­cult, go­ing as far as hiring a bouncer in 2013 to con­trol ac­cess. Af­ter an out­cry, the bounc­ers were swiftly re­moved, they al­leged.

On New Year’s Day, beach­go­ers were fu­ri­ous that peo­ple mainly from the Cape Flats had been blocked from ac­cess­ing a pub­lic toi­let and tidal pool near the restau­rant.

The gate was later re­opened by law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing con­trol over the gate rested with har­bour master Shafiek Ebrahiem.

While man­age­ment ini­tially de­nied claims that they had con­trol over the gate, res­i­dents say they were told to ask the Brass Bell’s man­age­ment for a key to ac­cess it.

Res­i­dent Steve Her­bert said the gate had been locked since Christ­mas Day, in a frus­trat­ing trend. “On Jan­uary 1, I found the gate locked and two metro po­lice on the other (har­bour) side. They told me the man­ager had the key and would open it for me – the man­ager could not be found.

“When I asked why the gate was locked, they said it was to con­trol ac­cess and al­co­hol be­ing brought onto the beach. I said that surely the gate could be open and the two of them could con­trol any­one com­ing though. Ob­vi­ously any fam­ily laden with kids, blan­kets, food etc would be in­tim­i­dated and turn back,” he said. The gate was still locked on Jan­uary 3.

While there had been a suc­cess­ful ef­fort by all role-play­ers to keep the beach safe and clean, and traf­fic free flow­ing and safe for pedes­tri­ans, the gate had caused un­hap­pi­ness, Her­bert added.

“You have to see it through the eyes of one of the fam­i­lies from Bon­te­heuwel, out for the day with the whole fam­ily, with their blan­kets. They come down the stairs, come up the other side and here’s this wall of white peo­ple sit­ting hav­ing break­fast, and it’s in­tim­i­dat­ing. And then there’s a gate that’s locked.”

Busi­ness owner An­to­nio Burger said he felt the restau­rant did not want peo­ple from the Cape Flats in close prox­im­ity to its cus­tomers, as it could be seen as bad for busi­ness.

“They will never stop some­one who knows their rights. They will stop some­one who feels in­tim­i­dated and will just walk away and move on. They know it works. They make the un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple feel un­com­fort­able,” he said.

Mary-Ann Naidoo, who flagged the in­ci­dent on so­cial me­dia, said that through gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, Kalk Bay was see­ing the en­croach­ment of pub­lic spa­ces to make way for grow­ing busi­ness, ul­ti­mately push­ing those of colour away.

“Jan­uary 1 and 2 are two days in the en­tire year that peo­ple from Bon­te­heuwel and Ma­nen­berg have time with their fam­i­lies. It is the pil­grim­age to the one beach which they tra­di­tion­ally feel they be­long to,” she said.

Peo­ple had stopped com­ing to the beach be­cause they felt un­wel­come, Naidoo said.

Ad­dress­ing the al­le­ga­tions, Brass Bell owner Tony White said: “The Brass Bell is merely a ten­ant. Please look to the landlord, Prasa (the Pas­sen­ger Rail As­so­ci­a­tion of SA), for com­ment.”

He added: “I must say that ev­ery­body I spoke to was amazed that the clos­ing of the gate by the har­bour master for about two hours could have made front-page news. It was false, amid the car­nage on our roads, the drown­ing in Kalk Bay har­bour and the drown­ing of two small chil­dren un­der the bridge in Muizen­berg.

“How about some of the good news? For in­stance, there were al­most no in­ci­dents, un­like in pre­vi­ous years, due to the strong pres­ence of the po­lice on the har­bour beach and the pre­ven­tive ac­tion taken by the har­bour master. Large amounts of al­co­hol were con­fis­cated, and the po­lice pres­ence pre­vented un­ruly be­hav­iour. This en­abled fam­i­lies with chil­dren to en­joy a pleas­ant day on the beach. Per­haps the Cape Times needs to adopt a more bal­anced ap­proach.”

When asked again to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions of dis­crim­i­na­tion, White added: “I think ev­ery­thing was ex­plained in your front-page ar­ti­cle where it was de­tailed that the gate was closed at the re­quest of the har­bour master and with the full sup­port of the City of Cape Town. The Brass Bell was not in­volved.”

Prasa did not re­spond by pub­li­ca­tion time to a re­quest for com­ment.

PIC­TURE: HENK KRUGER

TAR­NISHED: The Brass Bell in Kalk Bay has been ac­cused of dis­crim­i­na­tion in lim­it­ing ac­cess to a pub­lic beach.

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