Campaign against tavern

2008-10-14 00:00

A resident of Cinderella Park in Pietermaritzburg is circulating a petition in the area to close down a “problematic” tavern that she says is the scene of brutal fights among local young people.

A 25-year-old man from Eastwood died at the weekend after he was stabbed several times on the premises of the tavern on Saturday night. Brennan Benecke, who died in Grey’s Hospital, was doing grade 12 at a Durban school and was visiting family and friends for the weekend.

It is alleged Benecke and other young men, mostly from Eastwood, celebrated a friend’s birthday at a house in the tavern yard.

According to a source, a fight broke out at about 10 pm after one of the friends at the party went into the tavern to buy a cigarette and was stabbed. “The other boys went into the tavern to investigate the stabbing. But they were also attacked with … knives and pangas, by men from Cinderella Park,” said the source.

A woman who works at the tavern said the partygoers started a fight with drinkers in the tavern.

Campaigner Judy Maharaj, a member of the Cinderella Park Civil Association, said: “This tavern is going to lead to a mini-war between Cinderella Park boys and those of Eastwood. I have seen so many terrible attacks among the boys who drink there.”

On the day after the fight, she said a group of about 20 armed young men from Eastwood went to Cinderella Park looking for two men they accused of being behind Beneke’s death. They could not find them as they had fled.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said two men were taken in for questioning, but later released.

Said Maharaj: “On Saturday night last week another young man had to take cover under my son’s car as he was being hacked and stabbed after a fight started inside the tavern.

“In March patrons from that tavern threw beer bottles at my house and broke windows after my son told them to stop breaking bottles in front of our house.”

Maharaj, who is visiting houses in Fairy Terrace and Golden Way asking residents to sign a petition to close the tavern, said a new owner took over about four months ago from someone who gave up the business because he could not control the patrons.

The new owner of the tavern, who asked not to be named as he works for the government, said that after the attack the men involved told him the fight stemmed from old grudges between the Cinderella Park and Eastwood gangs.

“This was the first fight in my tavern since I took over. When I took over the tavern there were other local residents who wanted to run it, and now they are trying to discredit my business.

They must know that I’m not going to give up running it, instead I’m going to make it prosper,” he said.

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