De Lille probes alleged racism at bike shop
Cape Town - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s office will launch an investigation into an apparent racist incident at a bicycle repair shop in Woodstock.
Responding to a tweet by DA MP Phumzile van Damme, who called the incident “disgusting”, De Lille responded: “My office will be investigating this.”
De Lille’s spokeswoman Pierrinne Leukes confirmed the investigation and said: “We have already made contact with the owner who has agreed to meet with our office.”
The incident involved well-known news reporter and producer Philip Owira who claimed that the staff at Woodstock Cycleworks, including the owner, treated him unfairly after implying the bicycle he brought in for repairs had been stolen.
The owner of the repair shop, Nils Hansen, denied the claim and said Owira and his friend left the shop without expressing any ill-treatment.
Owira shared his experience with his more than 35 000 Twitter followers and Facebook friends and said the owner, after telling them that he could not help them, escorted them off the premises.
“He was completely condescending and kept making sarcastic comments. I assumed I would have a good experience there but it felt like we were unwanted,” Owira said. “He insisted that he had seen the bike on the streets and said he could not help, and that we could not leave the bike in his store.”
On Twitter, Owira called the staffer he dealt with rude and racist, tweeting: “Racist and rude staff at @WScycleworks in Woodstock. Took bike for repairs. Employee asked how I got it & assumed I stole the bike.
“My partner and some of my friends go there and they rave about the good experiences they have at the shop and I assumed mine would be the same.”
His friend, Akil Musa, said he was also a businessman and the way they were treated was not good.
“You never go on like that with your customer, the customers are the reason he has that business. We will never take anything to that place again.”
Hansen defended his actions by saying Owira and Musa were at the store outside of business hours, as the store was yet to open.
“You can call me rude but not racist. It is a very sad thing that happened and I would not have had a problem if they called me and said that I had been rude.”
Hansen later apologised on social media saying: “It’s a really regrettable story to tell and it’s caused much pain and anger.
“We’re so sorry for the unprofessional treatment you may have experienced. Woodstock Cycleworks aims to be a neighbourhood bike shop where everyone feels welcome and today, we fell short of that.
“I hope to grow wiser from this experience and for something like this never to happen again.”