Racist staff get sack

2018-02-21 15:45
The Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in Kamberg.

The Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in Kamberg.

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Two senior staffers accused of racism have been fired from the acclaimed KwaZulu-Natal Midlands guesthouse, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in Kamberg.

But they will escape criminal charges as their accusers have taken a “forgive and forget” attitude.

One of the victims of the alleged racist slurs, Basil Munengwa, said the workers who were referred to as “baboons, monkeys, f***ing muntus and n****rs” have chosen not to lay any charges against the two former managers.

“We were satisfied with the fact that the perpetrators were dismissed and we have chosen to forgive and move on,” he said.

Munengwa, who spearheaded the campaign to expose his former bosses via social media, said he has decided to use this experience to start a campaign that aims to educate people about their rights and help them stand up for themselves.

The owner of Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Richard Poynton, said until the allegations against his senior employees were laid bare on social media, he had not been aware of a problem. He said he was not aware that the staff were being insulted as he was not always at the guesthouse and was not involved in the day-to-day running of the place.

“This was an unfortunate incident and we cannot tolerate such an thing. I immediately got rid of them [the two staffers] and we sorted everything out with the workers. Everything is back to normal and the workers seem happy,” he said.

The Witness tried to make contact with the dismissed staff members by phone but the person who answered the call declined to comment.

Munengwa said when he started working as a waiter at the guesthouse last year, his colleagues had warned him about the racist slurs.

“The insults didn’t start immediately, but as time went on the name calling started.

“I told my colleagues that we had to do something to bring an end to this but I was told that more than 20 people had lost their jobs after they tried to stand up for themselves. Their dismissal was always blamed on made-up reasons like theft or breaking things so everyone was scared of them [the senior employees],” he said.

Munengwa said eventually a small group of staff members came together at the weekend. They made an announcement to the guests in the dining area on Saturday night that they would not be serving the guests their dinner until the racism at the guesthouse was dealt with. They took a video of the announcement, which they then posted on Twitter.

By Sunday morning the receptionist’s phone was ringing off the hook “from furious people” demanding that those responsible be dealt with, he said.

“We had no other option as they [the senior staff] made sure that there was no communication between us and the guesthouse owner Mr Poynton,” he said.

Munengwa has since resigned from the guesthouse as he said he fears for his safety.

“I do not regret sacrificing my job for the freedom and peace of mind of the other 39 workers.

“At the moment I just want to focus on helping other people who are in similar situations to find their voices and speak out about such issues. It is not a race thing but it is all about humanity,” said Munengwa.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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