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'Don’t allow the bravos in, whites are okay’: alleged racism at posh Stellenbosch wine estate

Asara Wine Estate and Hotel in Stellenbosch.

Asara Wine Estate and Hotel in Stellenbosch.

Published Apr 6, 2022


CAPE TOWN - An employee at the five-star Asara Wine Estate and Hotel has lifted the lid on alleged racism which he said left a bitter taste in his mouth, charging that their and patrons’ human rights were being “grossly violated”.

The employee, who has been with the establishment for five years, said he was left traumatised by the “blatant racism” by his management team who refused access to black patrons.

An investigation is under way following an incident at the weekend where a conversation was heard on the two-way radio used among staff, management and security.

In the recording, which is also in the possession of the Cape Times, a staff member is instructed not to allow any “bravo” (black) patrons to the premises.

“Ek wil nie ‘n geval van gister he nie…so whiskey (whites) is okay maar nie bravos (blacks) inlaat nie (I don’t want a situation like yesterday. Whiskey is okay but do not allow bravos),” the recorded clip purportedly said.

The employee said he has been mentally drained by the incident.

“It is dehumanising to think that somebody thought less of another person based on their skin colour.

“If this decision was made, one has to think where that knowledge production came from. If it was a call made by management, was it a decision made themselves or was it coming from top management?

“If it was a decision made by management on the day, and it did not come from top management, they have to be held accountable. They are denying access to the establishment based on ethnicity and this is blatant racism and a violation of human rights.

“So when black patrons come to the gate with no reservation, they get turned away and are told the place is full, but when white people arrive after them, also without a reservation, they are allowed in, no questions asked. It has left a bitter taste because this is where I get my bread and butter. The way I feel I want to go in there and say ’let my people go,’” said the employee.

The wine estate management said a thorough investigation into the serious allegations would be conducted.

Asara operations manager, Klaus Ahlers said: “Without prejudice we take your allegations extremely seriously and are busy with a thorough internal investigation in this regard. We deny any of your unfounded accusations and reserve our rights. Subject to the internal report and outcome based on our investigation from our senior members of staff, we will revert back to you.”

But the employee said the alleged racism had happened on more than one occasion.

“For a long time I was too invested in the brand of the establishment as it is my place of work, but it has become more and more blatant and I can not just stand back and allow it anymore. The racism is blatant and grossly unfair,” said the employee.

Ahead of its planned picket in Stellenbosch today, the EFF said it was not shocked by the allegations and appealed to anyone who had been ill-treated, regardless of ethnicity, to come forward.

“This is typical of Stellenbosch and not just Stellenbosch but the entire Western Cape and South Africa,” said the party’s provincial chairperson, Melikhaya Xego.

“Racism has gained confidence and arrogance and we appeal to those who have been negatively affected to come forward so we may zoom into those spaces where racism has reared its ugly head.

“We have spoken to the president on a national level of how he has become a defender of white power and this power is now showing its head again.

“We are saying people must come forward. We are not scared to take the bull by its horns and we will stand for anybody who has been ill-treated,” said Xego.

Attempts to obtain comment from the South African Human Rights Commission were unsuccessful by deadline.

Cape Times

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