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Durban - Themba Dlomo, the ANC Youth League member at the centre of a hefty Florida Road restaurant bill evasion, has come out guns blazing, accusing the owner of Velvet Lounge of “desperation to popularise” his venue.

The Sunday Tribune reported last week that Dlomo and his associate, Bongumusa Gumede, ran up a bill of R83 000 at the Florida Road venue and then bilked.

They were wanted by the police, and were reportedly also in the dog box with the ANC.

Restaurant owner Chris Munsamy denied the claims that he was desperate. “I am not trying to popularise the venue. I am just trying to get the bill settled.”

In a lengthy response this week, Dlomo admitted he knew Munsamy, but said the allegations against him and Gumede were unfounded and inaccurate. “It is rather unfortunate that Munsamy, who requested assistance and whom I considered a friend, behaved in the manner he did.

“I understand they may be desperate to popularise their venue, but it should not be at my expense and that of the ANC Youth League.”

Dlomo said he had met Munsamy some two or three years ago through a senior comrade. Dlomo said that on the evening in question he had met one of their (Youth League) funders, who had offered to host volunteers after they had mobilised for the visit by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa the following day. “I called the venue owner and informed him of the plan, to which he agreed. On the evening in question, I was the first to arrive.

“The owner promised to give us all drinks at cost, because the intention was to market his venue. On that evening, I sat with him, his girlfriend and a few comrades. All in all, there were about 15 of us in the lounge.”

Dlomo said he then requested an associate of Gumede’s to come and monitor the goings-on, and to communicate developments with the funder on “our behalf”.

The associate came, and at the end of the evening closed the tab.

“I paid R8 000 as a tip for the waitresses,” he said.

Dlomo said that on the second evening, after Ramaphosa’s address in Umbumbulu, they again went to the Florida Road venue, and Munsamy welcomed them again.

Dlomo said he was surprised when he was “bombarded with SMS messages” from Munsamy.

He said he sent them to the funder.

“I was informed by the funder that there was a dispute. On the same day, I got a call from a Dr Naidoo claiming to be the owner of the venue.

“I politely informed her that I was not aware that she was the owner, and said she should meet with Gumede and the funder, which happened.”

Dlomo said that at this meeting the funder also met with a certain Shaun, who also claimed to be a shareholder.

He said an agreement was reached that Shaun would resolve the dispute relating to drinks not being charged at cost, as had been agreed.

“I was busy with other election-related programmes and never followed up until I got a call from a Colonel Xulu from SAPS Berea informing me that a case was being opened,” he said.

Munsamy said he and Dlomo were still on good terms, but added that the bill had still not been settled, as had been agreed.

Sunday Tribune