Eatery faces claim over ‘darkies’ dig

2011-10-15 17:17

The Johannesburg outlet of American restaurant chain Hooters, famous worldwide for its scantily clad waitresses, has been slapped with a R1 million lawsuit over a racial boob.

The Fourways Hooters has been hauled in front of the Equality Court after they issued a bill emblazoned with the word “darkies” to three customers.

Complainants Steve Mweene and Felix Chalwe are claiming damages of R500 000 each from Hooters and a written unconditional apology.

Their friend will institute separate legal proceedings.

The two say the incident happened on July 28 after they had finished about R150 of drinks at their regular hangout spot.

Mweene (27) said they were shocked to see that under “customer name” the restaurant had typed “DARKIES”.

Hooters, which also has a branch in Durban, runs a Ms Hooters competition locally and invites women to apply to be Hooters girls.

However, Mweene and Chalwe failed to see the lighter side of the restaurant.

Their case is due before the Equality Court at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.

It has been delayed after Hooters failed to respond to the complaint by the deadline of last Thursday.

Mweene, Chalwe and a friend, who has chosen not to be part of the case, ordered three rounds of one-litre Black Label beers.

They say their waitress, only known as Charmaine, asked each of them their names.

“We were shocked when the till slip came out saying ‘darkies’,” Chalwe said.

They claim the manager on duty at the time, Sean Klokie, initially laughed at their complaint.

They were later offered free drinks should they return on another day.

“Hooters told us we were trying to extort money from them,” Chalwe said.

He said Hooters management claimed this was not an issue and that they dealt with such matters all the time.
They also opened a case of crimen injuria and discrimination at the Douglasdale police station.

Chalwe said an apology and a show of remorse would have been enough on the night.

But Hooters never apologised or did anything to that effect, he said.

“It shows a lack of respect for our kind,” he added.

Mweene accused Hooters of treating them like people who do not matter.

Douglasdale police spokesman Warrant Officer Balan Muthan said the investigating officer referred the criminal charges laid by the two men to prosecutors for a decision on whether or not to prosecute.

Hooters’ legal representatives, Durban-based Mooney Ford Attorneys, would not comment on the case.

Klokie has now moved to the Hooters branch in Durban and could not be reached for comment.

A Hooters Fourways general manager said he had heard about the incident but he was not willing to discuss it.

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