Birthday turns into nightmare

2011-05-05 00:00

A FIFTIETH birthday should be a time of celebration. For Linda Naidoo it was anything but.

Naidoo had booked Wanderer’s Club in Pietermaritzburg for her sister’s birthday, only to have the event turn into the party from hell.

Everything was going well in the run-up to the big event. Naidoo’s family had several meetings with manager Johan Lottering and had paid for the club in full.

The family specified the menu and arranged to use the club’s cutlery and crockery.

Naidoo arrived at the venue around 3 pm on Easter Saturday to arrange flowers and check on the venue.

Lottering had assured her that he would supervise the setting up of the venue.

Naidoo found that the kitchen manager was there, but the meat for the meal was still frozen and the manager “had already had a few drinks”.

Wanderer’s Club chairperson, Johan Barkhuizen said Lottering was away in the Eastern Cape for the weekend and a woman acting as the kitchen manager had stood in for him.

Naidoo called Lottering in an attempt to clear up the confusion, and he assured her he would speak to the woman left in charge.

Later, she said, he couldn’t be reached on his phone.

Naidoo had to rally her family to start preparing food while keeping the crisis secret from her sister and the guests who were to arrive at 5.30 pm.

“They didn’t have a clean tea towel in the kitchen.

“We were walking on custard and water.”

Responding to Naidoo’s allegations, Barkhuizen and the kitchen manager said the food was ready in the afternoon “and when called upon the starters were served”.

“The main course was only to be served at 7.30 pm. This was done and thereafter the sweets were served.”

Pranitha Pillay, a family friend, disagreed, saying, “By 8 pm there were no salads, nothing.”

It did not end there. The kitchen manager, who by then was even drunker, began to dish out free drinks from the bar and to dance with the guests instead of roasting the potatoes.

She eventually had to be escorted from the hall.

“It was a total disaster,” said Naidoo.

One waitress was left to do most of the work, after the venue had promised that there would be four. She burst into tears halfway through the night because she was under so much stress.

Barkhuizen said the kitchen manager did dance with the guests, but at their request.

He added that he had been at the club that evening, personally seeing that all the facilities were clean, and had not been approached with any complaints.

“[Naidoo] has not contacted Wanderers Club with any sort of complaint,” he said.

“This is the first we have heard of this. I am truly sorry that [she] was not happy and just wish she had contacted me on Saturday as I was there,” he added.

The kitchen manager has apologised to Naidoo. She asked that her name be withheld.

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