Mugg & Bean customers wanted a white manager, says owner
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Cape Town - A former manager at Mugg & Bean in Somerset West’s Waterstone Village mall has turned to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), claiming unfair dismissal by his employer, who he alleges had told him customers had demanded to be served by a white manager.
Andile Bozo, who used to wash cars for a living, had worked his way up to be a manager after working at different Famous Brand stores for 11 years. At the Mugg & Bean Waterstone Village, he had been working for four-and-a-half years, and one of the regular customers wrote to the Cape Times about Bozo’s dismissal.
“My husband is a regular at the Mugg & Bean Waterstone Village. Over the past three years that we have lived here he has got to know the former manager, Bozo, reasonably well. We both think he is a nice guy and a very competent manager.
“We thus were shocked to hear that the new owners were retrenching him, especially since they had recently appointed two white members of staff and were not applying the last-in, first-out principle. We really believe this is unacceptable behaviour in this day and age,” said the customer.
Bozo said the working environment became tense after a new owner arrived in December. “The first thing he wanted to know was why the store had no white waitress and waiters, and I told him they had quit. “He then employed two girls, but after three months they also left.
“He didn’t give up; he deployed another two. Among the two was his son. He told me he didn’t need me anymore as he had the people he wanted.
“On July 17, I received a letter saying I was being retrenched and must not come back to work, and I knew the word ‘retrenched’ meant fired. On the 20th, I was called to discuss the offer and I wanted to counter-offer and wanted more.
“That is when he defended himself and said it was the customers who wanted a white manager, and not him,” he said.
Mugg & Bean operations executive Jeanne Geldenhuys said: “In terms of the dismissal of the employee in question, and subsequent to an extensive internal investigation and due process followed, this matter has been submitted to the CCMA and we are currently waiting for a hearing date to be set.
“The matter is also the subject of a court hearing scheduled for next month, and we are therefore not in a position to comment further. Mugg & Bean management would like to assure that the rule of law will be observed and complied with.”
Geldenhuys said they subscribed to a policy of zero tolerance to racism in any form.