SAHRC opens probe into racism allegations levelled at Cape Town pub

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  • The SA Human Rights Commission has started an investigation into claims of racism levelled at Hank's Olde Irish pub in Cape Town.
  • It has also received a formal complaint from the EFF.
  • In the meantime, both sides appear to be lawyering up, with the pub stating the claims are unfounded and unproven.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has initiated an investigation into allegations that a bouncer at Hank's Olde Irish pub in Cape Town sought to exclude a black patron, unless he was accompanied by a white person.

The SAHRC has also received a formal complaint from the EFF, which picketed outside the pub on Tuesday afternoon in solidarity with Thabiso Danca, who told News24 he was embarrassed and humiliated by the incident.

Western Cape SAHRC commissioner André Gaum said they had already initiated an investigation and that the EFF sent them a formal complaint.

READ | 'Embarrassed and dehumanised': Cape Town pub patron refused entry because he is black recounts humiliation

"We will obviously hear their version," he said, detailing the processes that would follow.

The options are to take the issue to the Equality Court or to investigate the matter themselves.

In the meantime, City of Cape Town spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said Cape Town was known for its vibrant nightlife and community, and wanted all its residents and visitors to feel welcome.

"As an inclusive, cosmopolitan city there is no place for racism, or any form of discrimination," he said.

WATCH | Pub grudge: EFF vows to shut down Cape Town bar after black patron allegedly denied entry

"Regarding the specific incident, the City understands the matter has been reported to authorities and is currently before the courts, who are best placed to determine the facts," he added.

A video emerged of an angry confrontation between Danca's friend, Chris Logan, and an owner of Hank's last Friday, with Logan saying Danca had been told he could only go into the pub if a white person accompanied him.

The owner, Johnny Papadakis, did not want to comment on the record. A laminated statement was posted to their door on Tuesday stating that the allegations were unfounded and unproven, referring all queries to their lawyer William Booth.

Booth, a top criminal defence lawyer, told News24 on Thursday they would not be commenting at this stage, given that the police were investigating two cases of assault and a case of racism (crimen injuria).

Logan said the police had spoken to them several times about their complaint. He added that they were approached by two top lawyers who offered their services at no charge, should they need it.

At the last check-in, the police said they were still investigating.

In the meantime, the GOOD party called on the City of Cape Town to address the allegations.

"We don't know the full story of what recently transpired at Hank's Olde Irish bar in Bree Street," said GOOD secretary-general Brett Herron, a former DA councillor.

"But what we do know is that there are enough of these types of incidents in the city and surrounding region to sketch a pattern of prejudice and discrimination," he said.

Outside the pub on Tuesday, there were mixed reactions to the incident as people walked past. Some hissed that the place was racist, others said Papadakis would never condone something like that, while others claimed the incident was staged.

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