Members-only resort is code for racist

2011-01-22 18:49

Current and former employees of a resort embroiled in a race ­controversy have come forward with more damning allegations of racial discrimination.

Staff at the Lekkerrus holiday ­resort in Limpopo said racism was also rife at its nearby sister ­resort, Klub Libertas, situated in ­Mookgophong, about 140km south of Polokwane.

A young woman who worked for Lekkerrus between 2005 and 2007, who still works in the area, said that until this week black ­people were not allowed beyond the gates.

They were required to park their cars at the entrance and communicate with the receptionists through the security guards, she said.

She remembers one particular incident when a white couple was booted out of the resort after ­management realised that the ­couple had a coloured girl in their ­entourage.

“Some managers spotted the girl swimming in the pool and told us to close the shops and part of the resort, saying coloureds were the same as blacks.

They then ordered the white couple out of Lekkerrus,” the young woman said.

However, she stressed that she left because she found a better ­paying job, and that Lekkerrus and Libertas treated their black ­employees fairly.

A maintenance officer at a resort a few kilometres from Lekkerrus and Libertas said the two resorts had a reputation for excluding black people.

In the 11 years he had worked in the area, he had heard dozens of complaints from black people who were refused ­entry.

“They do not want black people there and do not even hide it.

We do not know why. What is surprising is that all of their cleaners and maintenance workers are black, but black guests are not allowed,” he said.

The two said they were not aware of other resorts in the area that adopted the same policy.

Five other resorts, including Die Oog, Rhemardo and Kammaland, gave the City Press team no hassle when we tried to book in, adding they required no one to be a ­member before admission.

The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that Lekkerrus had come under fire from the SA ­Human Rights Commission for ­only allowing whites into the ­resort.

This came after a guest, Adam Morgan, and his family were ­reportedly turned away because they were coloured.

On Friday, however, two City Press reporters were allowed into Lekkerrus and were quickly handed membership application forms.

But insiders say this was part of a new strategy to create the ­impression that they were tackling ­racism by allowing blacks to fill in forms and then keeping them on the waiting list indefinitely.

Despite making it clear that ­access was for members only, the black ­security guard manning the gate eventually allowed us in to fill out membership forms.

Inside, two receptionists wearing broad smiles immediately gave us forms and even offered pens.

But two other officials, a man in his late 20s and another in his 50s, stared suspiciously at us for the ­entire 15 minutes we spent at the ­reception desk.

The two snuck out to check our car registration and peeped through its windows before ­rushing to the gate to ask the guard a few questions about us.

Insiders said the English version of the forms were printed only this week in response to the public ­outcry against racism.

“It takes between two and five days for an application to be ­considered. The R300 ­member­ship fee is per family,” said the ­receptionist.

Although the guard at Libertas allowed us in to fill out membership forms, he made it clear the place was “private property”.

Asked how long it would take for us to get the final answer about our ­applications, the receptionist who gave us the forms replied: “It depends, because we have a waiting list.

We still have to take your application form to the trustees for approval and they will contact you.”

The membership forms of the two resorts, which shared banking details and postal addresses, ­stated clearly that if admission was rejected, the resorts would refund applicants their money “without any statement of reason”.

An insider said: “They will keep you on the waiting list forever. It is just a trick.

They will apply ­delaying tactics and your application will never be approved.”

Lekkerrus manager Andre ­Volschoon yesterday declined to comment on the allegations.

“I do not even know who you are and whether you are the person you say you are.

I cannot comment about this over the phone. You are free to come and talk to us on Monday (tomorrow),” said Volschoon.


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