Dros at­tack ‘a wake-up call’

● Bay restau­rants beef up se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions, in­clud­ing wrist­bands with chil­dren’s names on them

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Front page - Shaun Gill­ham gill­hams@ti­soblack­star.co.za

The al­leged rape of a child in a fam­ily restau­rant which rocked the na­tion has trig­gered an im­me­di­ate re­sponse from Nel­son Man­dela Bay eater­ies, which have been busy ramp­ing up safety pre­cau­tions and re­think­ing their se­cu­rity.

“It’s been a wake-up call,” one Bay restau­rant man­ager ob­served in the wake of the shock­ing in­ci­dent at a Dros out­let in Pre­to­ria.

Con­cerns have be­ing ex­pressed widely on so­cial me­dia that the at­tack had smashed per­cep­tions of fam­ily restau­rants be­ing bas­tions of safety for par­ents with chil­dren.

The ar­rest and sub­se­quent court ap­pear­ance of a 20-yearold rape sus­pect who was al­legedly dis­cov­ered semi-naked in toi­lets at Dros in Sil­ver­ton, Pre­to­ria, on Septem­ber 22, has been fol­lowed closely day to day by a con­cerned pub­lic which has been ask­ing how it could have hap­pened.

The sus­pect is ac­cused of fol­low­ing a seven-year-old girl to the toi­let and at­tack­ing her af­ter he had ap­par­ently watched her in the eatery’s play area for some time.

In re­sponse to the Dros case, the Ea­gle Ridge Spur in Charlo in­tro­duced new pre­cau­tions, go­ing be­yond Spur’s stan­dard safety pol­icy, to pre­vent any sim­i­lar at­tacks on chil­dren.

“That at­tack was very sad and it was shock­ing. It was the last place we ex­pected some­thing like this to hap­pen,” manageress Har­riet Nyaumba said.

She said to in­still con­fi­dence in its pa­trons, the eatery had im­ple­mented new safety pre­cau­tions over and above those mea­sures that were stan­dard across the fran­chise.

“The first new mea­sure we have taken is to is­sue chil­dren with wrist­bands with their names on. This al­lows us to mon­i­tor the chil­dren in the restau­rant and make sure that we match the chil­dren up with their par­ents,” Nyaumba, a mother her­self, said.

Nyaumba said staff were also be­ing ex­tra vig­i­lant and keep­ing an eye on chil­dren whether they were in the play area – where a child min­der was con­stantly present – or else­where in the restau­rant.

“We have de­cided to of­fer pa­trons the op­tion of a staff mem­ber ac­com­pa­ny­ing their child to a wash­room should they need one.

“Nat­u­rally, they can ac­com­pany their own chil­dren should they pre­fer,” Nyaumba said.

She said, how­ever, that while eater­ies held a cer­tain amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity, par­ents were equally re­spon­si­ble for the safety of their chil­dren.

Har­riet Nyaumba MANAGERESS, EA­GLE RIDGE SPUR

“We do as much as we can to en­sure the safety of young pa­trons, but par­ents also need to be re­spon­si­ble for their chil­dren’s safety.

“Se­cu­rity starts at home where par­ents should be ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren about things like not talk­ing to strangers.”

Nyaumba said pa­trons had made men­tion of the Dros in­ci­dent, with some ask­ing staff about safety pre­cau­tions.

Dr Thandi Ngxukumeshe, who owns the Wimpy at the Board­walk, said vig­i­lance was the busi­ness’s pri­mary weapon.

“The Pre­to­ria at­tack was a very, very shock­ing in­ci­dent. We found it very strange it took place – in fact, we are try­ing to think how ex­actly that could have taken place in a set­ting like that. So yes, it has def­i­nitely shocked the in­dus­try.”

Ngxukumeshe said un­like other eater­ies at the Board­walk, Wimpy had its own toi­lets on site.

“This means we have far greater con­trol over what hap­pens on our premises. We only have one men’s loo, and we keep a sharp eye on it.

“Sec­ondly, our staff are in­structed to check and clean the re­strooms ev­ery 30 min­utes and, in ad­di­tion, our re­cep­tion­ist checks the re­strooms ev­ery 20 min­utes.

“Along with that, all our staff note and keep an eye on all chil­dren from when they en­ter the restau­rant.”

The busi­ness also em­ploys child min­ders for the play area.

“Our staff are also in­structed to check in on the re­strooms if, for ex­am­ple, it is no­ticed some­one has gone in for an ab­nor­mal amount of time.”

Rachel Hel­berg, a manageress at John Dory’s on the beach­front, de­scribed the Pre­to­ria at­tack as “very de­press­ing” and said it had proved a wake-up call for the in­dus­try, which was now far more se­cu­rity aware.

“We have a se­cu­rity cam­era pres­ence so we mon­i­tor what is go­ing on all the time.

“In ad­di­tion, we have two child min­ders in our play area,” Hel­berg said, ad­ding that all the busi­ness’s man­age­ment were women and were nat­u­rally vig­i­lant around child safety.

Hel­berg said be­sides fathers with chil­dren, the eatery pro­hib­ited men from en­ter­ing the chil­dren’s play area as an ad­di­tional pre­cau­tion.

“In terms of re­spon­si­bil­ity, I think it lies with both the venue and pa­trons. There is a fine line be­tween ex­pec­ta­tions and what we can ac­tu­ally do.

Se­cu­rity starts at home where par­ents should be ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren about things like not talk­ing to strangers

“As an ex­am­ple, there was a child who kept on climb­ing rail­ings. A child min­der asked the child not to be­cause it was dan­ger­ous.

“The child per­sisted and then fell and hurt him­self. The grand­par­ent then came and com­plained to us. This then raises the ques­tion around what con­trol over chil­dren and le­git­i­mate re­spon­si­bil­i­ties a restau­rant has.”

Jur­gens van Onse­len, who man­ages Some­thing Good in Sum­mer­strand – which boasts an ex­ten­sive out­door play area – ex­pressed anger at the Dros in­ci­dent.

“We have an ex­cep­tion­ally good cam­era sys­tem, ac­cess to two se­cu­rity com­pa­nies and fre­quent po­lice pa­trols around the premises,” he said.

“Po­lice horse pa­trols are also con­ducted in this area. Pa­trons and our staff are con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing the play area, which can only be ac­cessed from in­side the restau­rant.”

Van Onse­len said par­ents also gen­er­ally took seats which over­looked the play area.

“Our staff also note the chil­dren when they come in, ob­serve who they came in with, and keep an eye out for any be­hav­iour out of the or­di­nary.”

Henry Grob­ler, of The Fran­chise Co, which has a Mike’s Kitchen at Gar­den Court Kings Beach, said child safety was a crit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Kids are a big part of the busi­ness and we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to take all pre­cau­tions we can to en­sure their safety. Staff vig­i­lance over the chil­dren, the place­ment of child min­ders and the se­cu­rity we em­ploy around the premises are all part of the ef­fort.”

Grob­ler said he found the Pre­to­ria in­ci­dent shock­ing, par­tic­u­larly as it had taken place in a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment.

Jane van Heer­den, of Jo­han­nes­burg, a sin­gle mother of an 11-year-old daugh­ter, told Week­end Post at the Board­walk: “I al­ways make sure I am seated close to the play ar­eas so my daugh­ter can en­joy her­self while I keep an eye on her.

“That Pre­to­ria in­ci­dent was fright­en­ing and it’s made me much more con­scious of where my child is at all times.”

Speak­ing out­side a Board­walk eatery, a mother of four, Joanne Wood, of Port El­iz­a­beth, said she sim­ply did not trust any­one any­more.

“Of course that at­tack was shock­ing. No-one ex­pects that sort of thing to hap­pen in a pub­lic place like that.

“At the end of the day, par­ents must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own chil­dren, wher­ever they are,” she said.

Sa­man­tha and Gary Kemp, of Hei­del­berg, said while they be­lieved the Dros in­ci­dent was iso­lated, it had prompted them to be more watch­ful over their two young chil­dren.

“We will still go out to eat as a fam­ily, but we will def­i­nitely be more cau­tious.”

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