By Bronwynne Jooste
A Claremont businesswoman is selling her Main Road pub and restaurant - and says only white buyers need apply.
The woman, who is black, says she's been driven to insist on a white buyer by a police inspector who, she claims, told her a black-owned establishment would attract "indecent black people".
The sign, two copies of which were posted in the windows of the business on Claremont's busy Main Road, reads: "This restaurant/bar is for sale. White buyers only." Handwritten below are the words "Order by inspector".
Copies of the sign were put up on Sunday night but yesterday morning the building's facilities manager, John Correia, removed them.
Correia said he had taken a photograph and sent it to the building's trustees who said the sign should be removed.
"It was offensive, it hit a bad spot and they said I should take it off," Correia said.
The managing agents of the building, the Sandak-Lewin Trust, said they had been told by trustees, who are the other tenants, that the sign was a prank.
Trust managing director Carl Smit said the trustees were not aware of the woman's alleged battle with the police.
The woman, who has asked not to be named, said she was being forced to sell her business because a police officer had opposed her application for a liquor licence.
She has laid a complaint with Claremont's station commissioner against the inspector. Police have confirmed that they are taking the matter seriously and are investigating.
The woman said she had been forced to post the racially slanted signs after the officer allegedly told her the police no longer wanted "black establishments" in the area because they attracted "indecent black people".
She said she had started renting the space in August last year and had, to date, forked out close to R400 000 in rent and upgrades.
City of Cape Town spokesman Charles Cooper said the premises complied with the city's health and fire regulations and had been granted a business licence in October last year.
But the woman cannot sell liquor as she does not have a liquor licence yet.
She alleges that the policeman submitted a scathing report to the provincial liquor board opposing her application for a licence.
The woman said the problems stemmed from another pub and restaurant she had previously owned in Claremont's Main Road.
That establishment, Karibu, had been situated near an alleyway. The woman said people had been drinking and urinating in the alleyway.
"I tried to chase the people away, but they told me that I had no right (as) I don't rent that alley."
Her customers had also been subjected to frequent random searches and eventually she knew she had to move, she said.
The policeman against whom she has lodged a complaint had been involved in these searches, she charged.
"It became too much for me. I decided I must look for other premises. I even told that inspector, 'I am going to find something up-market now.' There was too much confusion and chaos, I had to leave that behind."
Despite seeing several vacant premises, she alleges that her offer to rent had repeatedly been rejected because landlords refused to take black tenants.
"Some said they had bad experiences with blacks. People were selling drugs and now they don't want blacks any more. I'm clean, but look at what I got back. But I wouldn't give up."
Finally, just as her lease at Karibu was about to expire, she found Legends, on the corner of Main and Stegman roads.
The woman's attorney, Laurence Nathan, said the police were opposing her liquor licence application based on the manner in which Karibu had been operated.
"The application has not been denied; we are still waiting for a hearing," Nathan said.
The woman alleges that the police officer had told her to get a white buyer.
"He said the place was going to attract indecent black people. It is a curse to be born with this complexion. I feel less human. It's like I have no right to live; I have been reduced to zero."
Claremont police spokeswoman Captain Angie Latchman confirmed that the woman had lodged a complaint with the station commissioner and that the police were looking into her allegations.
Local ward councillor Ian Iverson said he would also challenge the woman's application for a new licence.
"It's got to do with the way her previous establishment was run. I'm not sure how she conducted that business. The area (at Karibu) was problematic, it hasn't gone away since she has left but it is less so now that there is no longer a business with a liquor licence."
Iverson said it was ludicrous to imply that black people were barred from opening businesses in Claremont.
The woman says she has not received any offers to buy.