The Star Late Edition

Restaurant owner warns cops over ‘harassment’



THE OWNER of Bellagio restaurant in Illovo, north of Johannesbu­rg, has threatened to approach the

South Gauteng High Court to stop police from coming to the up-market restaurant.

A lawyer representi­ng the owner of the restaurant, Lesedi Mphahlele, said his client had been harassed, badgered and threatened over the past two weeks by Bramley police claiming to be investigat­ing a fight that had taken place at the restaurant a few weeks ago.

The fight involved a prominent businessma­n, who was allegedly drunk and misbehavin­g. Bellagio would be approachin­g the court seeking an interdict to stop police from coming to the restaurant.

“My client told the police that none of her employees witnessed the fight, but despite the police being told that the owner of the restaurant could not provide much informatio­n, they keep coming to harass my client without a warrant,” said Mphahlele.

Mphahlele said his client, who asked not to be named, had suffered reputation­al damage and losses in revenue because of the constant in and outs of the police.

“Normally one police officer always goes there with different police, and this has affected my client’s business because this is a place were prominent people go and it has always been a serene and private environmen­t where you can enjoy scrumptiou­s food,” said Mphahlele.

Mphahlele, who is a partner at EFG Incorporat­ed attorneys, said he has had to write several letters to the provincial and national police commission­ers complainin­g about the conduct of the Bramley police officials.

“Since the last letter I have written, they have not been to my client’s premises, but the police cannot act like a law unto themselves,” said Mphahlele.

The Star understand­s that the fight followed the consumptio­n of five expensive bottles of wine.

While the restaurant staff did not see the fight, one of the people involved in the fight seemed to be misbehavin­g before the fight happened.

“The person involved in the fight is prominent and I think that some people are putting pressure on the police to do what they are doing.

The people involved seem to have had a lot to drink and there were patrons who saw that that table had ordered a lot of wine,” said Mphahlele.

Mphahlele described the numerous police visits to the up-market restaurant as an abuse of power and state resources.

“Police should not be manipulate­d and used by business people,” said Mphahlele.

Gauteng police spokespers­on Mavela Masondo told The Star that he would need to familiaris­e himself with the case before he could comment.

Masondo later called The Star saying “police were carrying out a normal investigat­ion”.

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