KZN inn acts on racism

2016-08-08 10:07
Apartheid era flags previously hung over the bar at The Travellers Rest in New Hanover.

Apartheid era flags previously hung over the bar at The Travellers Rest in New Hanover. (File)

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An apartheid-era flag is just one of the many insignia previously displayed at a prominent New Hanover guesthouse that has been brought into the spotlight after a guest has pointed fingers at the establishment’s use of these as racist.

The claims were made by a guest who stayed overnight at The Travellers Rest in New Hanover last month.

After noticing what he claims were racially discriminatory signs in the guesthouse’s bar area, the customer has since lodged a multitude of complaints with various local tourism boards.

However, guesthouse manager Andrew Browne said they have since removed the signs, saying they have never received a complaint from any customer, regardless of their race, but have opted to do so to prevent further trouble.

The customer, who asked to remain unnamed but emphasised that he is a white male, said he stayed at the guesthouse for one night late last month.

Checking in after dark, the customer said he spotted the signs when he went to the bar to collect his room keys.

“I asked myself, did I really just see that? Is that what I think it is? I had to look again afterwards to make sure. I could do nothing about it,” the customer said.

The customer was referring to large apartheid-era South African flags draped above the bar counter as well as various signs stuck on the wall.

One sign read, “We are WEE compliant” while another read, “Previously Advantaged Only”.

Another sign on the wall read, “They Don’t Just Look Different”.

The customer snapped pictures of the insignia and posted his complaints to various tourism boards.

However, Browne dismissed the claims of racism, saying customers of all races frequent the facility and no one has never complained — rather, he said, the customers have found the signs humorous.

“It was just bar humour. The history of this inn dates back to the 1800s and we have various memorabilia to emphasise that history, before and after apartheid,” Browne said.

“It’s part of history and is a light-hearted take on the old regime. We have since removed all the signs as we do not want to offend anybody. We did not think it was offensive as nobody has complained before.”

Browne, who has only been at the guesthouse since May, said the signs were on the wall when he started his job.

“Recently, we had 22 black police officers staying with us to monitor elections in the area. They laughed at the signs too. We have a mixture of staff here and everyone is welcome,” the manager said, apologising if the signs caused any offence.

Msunduzi Tourism director Dumisani Mhlongo said by law, the establishment must be registered with a local tourism association — which it is.

“Such things are bound to happen when the enforcers of regulations are not playing their part,” Mhlongo said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  racism

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