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‘Racist store turned me away’

Crime & Courts

An exclusive clothes shop is at the centre of a race row after staff members turned away at least two black customers without explanation.

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Cape Town 26-10-2011 Zola Mekula was turned away because his black in this shop Picture Ayanda Ndamane Story Mandilakhe Tshwete

A Cape businessman is considering legal action against Zed Menswear on the Tyger Waterfront in Bellville after he was asked to leave the premises.

And Daily Voice photographer Ayanda Ndamane was also turned away when he visited the shop.

Outraged Zola Mekula says he was left stunned after a white salesman bluntly told him he could not afford a R2 000 shirt he had eyed while shopping last week.

“The shop has good quality shirts and that’s all. I wanted to buy some,” Zola tells the Daily Voice. “But before I could go in the store, I was turned away.

“The salesman told me they can’t allow me in the shop because they only allow private clients.”

The stunned property businessman from Khayelitsha could not believe what he was hearing, so he asked the salesman for an explanation.

“He said it is a private shop and then asked me if I could actually afford a R2 000 shirt,” Zola adds.

“When I told him I could buy the shirt and more stuff, he showed me the ‘Right of Admission Reserved’ writing on the door.

“That’s when I knew the colour of my skin had a role to play in this.”

Zola says he is now considering taking legal action against the store and has already consulted with his lawyer.

“I feel insulted by him about how he looked down on me and suggested that I couldn’t afford a shirt. I’m used to buying clothes in that price range,” Zola says.

“But he took one look at my skin colour and thought I’m either there to steal or just to browse.”

Zola says he went around the area to find out if he is the only black person turned away from the shop.

“I heard the shop was robbed and now they don’t trust anyone in the shop,” he says.

“But what they’re doing is wrong and I can’t accept it. I should be allowed to go into any shop as long as I pay.

The shop’s spokesman Selwyn Lebinthal refused to comment directly when contacted by the Daily Voice.

“Mr Mekula has agreed to speak to me and we are going to have a chat about this,” he says. “But I cannot comment until that has happened.”

* This acrticle was published in the Daily Voice

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