Dad’s Mother’s Day hell

2014-05-13 00:00

INSTEAD of a relaxed Mother’s Day celebration with his family, a local man, Rasheed Ebrahim, found himself locked in a cell at Liberty Midlands Mall for almost three hours on Sunday after a spat with a waitress at Nando’s.

Now Ebrahim has vowed to pursue legal action against those responsible for keeping him behind bars over what he claims is a “completely untrue” allegation that he called the waitress by the “K-word”.

“This is not a word that I would dream of using,” he told The Witness yesterday.

Ebrahim said despite his protestations of innocence — and those of his girlfriend, Noxi Bana — he was locked in a cell by mall security at around 4 pm and detained illegally until uniformed police arrived at the scene at around 6.45 pm.

When police questioned the waitress she said she had “thought” he used the “K-word” when addressing her, Ebrahim said.

It also emerged that there were no witnesses to back up her allegation and police ordered that Ebrahim be released without charge, he said.

When contacted for comment, Nando’s yesterday referred The Witness to the centre management.

In an e-mailed response, centre manager Umi Khan said management could confirm that at about 4.40 pm on Sunday a Nando’s staff member “activated a panic button”.

“Following the activation of the panic button, mall security responded immediately to investigate and was advised that a staff member wanted to press charges against a patron regarding an alleged altercation. As per procedure, security escorted the patron to the holding cell until such time that South African Police Service (SAPS) arrived.”

Khan said the mall’s protocol was that if a complainant wished to press charges against a perpetrator the suspect should be apprehended and detained in a holding cell “for no more than four hours, within the mall’s security office”.

“In this particular case the patron was detained at approximately 5.01 pm until approximately 6.57 pm.

“The safety and security of shoppers and tenants is of utmost importance to Liberty Midlands Mall centre management and the mall’s security team follows strict policies and procedures when dealing with all security incidences on the premises,” Khan added.

Ebrahim told The Witness that the drama started soon after he, together with Bana and their seven-month-old son, Raheel Ebrahim, arrived at Nando’s to enjoy a Mother’s Day lunch.

A group of people who had been seated at a corner table, got up and left the restaurant and Bana immediately moved over to the abandoned table, which was more comfortable for her and the baby, said Ebrahim.

“There were some other people sitting behind us who also wanted the table and started shouting at the waitress that they wanted that table. I think maybe they knew her, but my girlfriend went there first.”

Ebrahim said the waitress however told Bana she could not sit there.

“I then said to her [the waitress] that she was very rude. I told her, ‘You should not have done that’. That is all I said to her … The next thing she went off crying,” said Ebrahim.

He said a short while later the manager came up and asked to see him after he’d finished his meal.

“I said that was no problem.”

However, said Ebrahim, five minutes later their meal was again interrupted when the manager returned together with a member of mall security and demanded that he leave his meal and talk to them outside.

They escorted him to an office where he was informed that the waitress was crying and alleged he called her by the “K-word”.

“I denied this. I said I would never say that to anyone,” he said.

Ebrahim said despite his denials, a security guard named “Alistair” said he needed to be “locked up” until the police came as the waitress intended to open a case against him.

He was locked into a “bare cell” to wait for the police.

One of the guards had brought him a chair to sit on after he complained that he had spinal problems and could not stand for long.

Ebrahim said he was allowed to keep his cellphone and possessions, and at his request his girlfriend and baby were brought to see him.

He also telephoned his daughter and other relatives, but he was only released after police got there.

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