From left, Robert Collins, Quintin Sykes, Joe Bezuidenhout and Hendrik van der Merwe are gay friends who were allegedly attacked and assaulted by men at a club in Germiston. Photo: Paballo Thekiso

The thought of going out to a pub or a club terrifies Robert Collins after he was allegedly beaten up in a Johannesburg karaoke bar – for being gay, he claims.

No one is denying the assault. Collins’s problem is that nobody seems to care – not even Mr Gay SA, he says.

Two weeks ago, Collins and his friends, Hendrik van der Merwe, Quintin Sykes and Alex and Jacu Bruce, went to Murphy’s pub and grill in Lambton. But what was meant to be a fun and enjoyable night out for them turned into a nightmare when they were allegedly assaulted and verbally abused by two “huge men” at the Joburg pub.

“We just wanted to enjoy our night out – and we were until these two guys approached us,” said Collins. “They were drunk and looking for a fight. They accused my two friends of making too much noise, yet the music was blasting in the pub, it was insane. They just picked on us because we are gay.”

Collins said when his friends tried to sort out the argument verbally, they were assaulted.

“My life partner, Quintin, was smacked in the mouth by this huge bodybuilder guy and then my friend Joe was also smacked,” he said.

“My friends have never been in fights before and if we had lifted a hand we would have died that night, so we tried talking to them calmly, but these guys just wanted to fight.

“The owner of the pub called us ‘moffies’ and said that we had f***ed with the wrong people,” said Collins.

“The owner then hit and strangled me as I protected my man… all because we walked into a place and had something to eat and had two drinks,” added Collins.

Collins and his friends, who are from Alberton, were then told to leave the pub and were allegedly assaulted once again by the two “huge men” on their way out.

“Everybody in the pub turned against us. Some youngsters were swearing at us and saying they were going to f*** us up as we were leaving.”

However, their ordeal wasn’t over yet, they claim.

When the Germiston police arrived at the pub, Collins claims they stood by and watched as he and his friends were beaten.

“I was in total shock that the police did nothing. The people who are supposed to protect us with our rights did nothing.”

“The police knew the owner of the pub and he instructed the police to make us pay for our bill and then leave. He did nothing.

“The pub has a video of the event, but because it’s the owner’s friends who assaulted us he brought the video out and burned it, saying you ‘moffies’ will never do anything.”

But Tommy Thomson, the owner of Murphy’s Pub and Grill, has denied that he assaulted anybody and says he plans on taking legal action against Collins and his friends.

“I never laid a hand on anybody. Those six guys were causing nonsense with two other guys in the club and then a fight started and I kicked them both out,” said Thomson.

“The rule in my pub is that if anyone causes nonsense they get kicked out immediately. Those six were chirping the two guys and unfortunately the two men decided to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

Thomson said one of Collins’s friends had pulled out his belt and was ready to hit someone.

“I had to stop the fight in my pub, so I tried to separate them,” said Thompson.

He added that Collins and his friends had also refused to pay their bill of R500.

“When I checked the bill they were drinking shots of Stroh rum and were completely pissed. It’s unfortunate that they decided to cause nonsense in my pub, because they will never be allowed back. They still haven’t paid the money and I will take action against them,” he added.

Asked whether the other two men would be allowed back into his pub, Thomson said he was reviewing video footage and would decide whether they should be allowed back.

Collins said they had opened a case with the Germiston police station. “They all deserve to be arrested. It was hate crime and that is not acceptable in South Africa,” he said. “Whether you’re black or white, straight or gay, everybody should be treated equally. My money is as good as a straight man’s, so why do we have to get treated like this? I don’t understand,” he said.

“Just a week before we celebrated gay pride, and then a week later we get bashed by drunk guys at a pub. That’s totally disgusting.

“I had to take my partner to the hospital with terrible shock and cuts and bruises due to this incident. This is the last time we ever go to Murphy’s.”

Collins added that he had contacted Mr Gay South Africa, Francois Nel, in hope that they would receive backing from the model after what had happened, but his plea fell on dead ears.

“I was hoping we would receive support from Francois, but they have done nothing to support us through our ordeal. He is the man we look up to and I was hoping he would take a stance. We all are disappointed.”

On Friday, Conie Kukkuk, the operations director at Mr Gay SA, said the organisation condemned any hate crime or hate speech. “However, law enforcement and investigation of hate crimes are not the (gay) community’s responsibility or the responsibility of organisations like Mr Gay SA – nor are private citizens allowed to interfere with law enforcement.

“It is our responsibility as citizens to insist that they do so, which we are doing. We again call on the SAPS to investigate all allegations of hate crimes, as well as to set up a special task force to investigate the recent murders of gay men in Joburg – if the murders are related to each other or not.”

Collins said they would not rest until justice was served.

“The owner, along with the two guys, need to be put in jail. They need to be made an example of so that hate crimes stop.

“If some racist white guy used the K word he would be thrown straight into jail. It’s no different if people call us ‘moffies’, so I hope that they get the punishment they deserve.” - Saturday Star