Durban – Jealousy in the entertainment and hospitality industry could be behind the raid by the Hawks on Eyadini Lounge shisanyama in uMlazi last week, the owner, Jabulani Zama, said on Monday.
He said he was left unsettled by the conduct of the police who acted on untrue information that drugs were being sold at his restaurant.
He said he feared a business rival could be trying to tarnish his business.
“It could be that a business rival or a friend of a business rival is trying to tarnish my name and that of Eyadini, so patrons would stop coming to us and go to that rival’s business,” he said.
Hawks from Mpumalanga and members of the organised crime unit raided his business on Thursday morning looking for drugs.
“I had just arrived and 10 minutes later the police showed up. Some went through the gate, others jumped over the fence to gain access to the property. They asked for the owner and I presented myself and they took my phone. They told my workers to step aside and took their phones."
“They presented me with a search warrant and started searching every room. The police officer in charge then told me that they were looking for drugs,” he said.
“The allegation was that I was selling drugs from the business in bulk and I was the supplier."
“I support the police for the work they are doing dealing with crime but it was the way they had conducted their operation that left me unsettled. I would plead with others in the industry to work hard to uplift their businesses, and not to try to bring my business down with falsehoods and to misuse police officers by giving them false information to do unnecessary searches.”
Zama said he had worked hard to build his business, both the infrastructure in which he invested millions, and its reputation, that he has built through social media, and he would not destroy it by selling drugs.
“I hate drugs, I know what damage drugs can do. An allegation like this can bring down my business as people would stop coming to enjoy themselves. Fortunately, my customers know that drugs are unacceptable here and that is why we have security everywhere. They know that someone is trying to tarnish the reputation of the Eyadini,” he said.
Zama said he would not challenge the police over the search but would instead focus on building his business.
“I have been to other places and Eyadini is number one in Durban if not South Africa. Every weekend I get about 300 people from outside Durban and from other provinces who know when they come to Durban, they have to come to Eyadini. It’s like coming to Durban, you have to see the sea,” he said.
According to a newspaper report, Hawks confirmed the raid, but found no drugs on the premises.