Cape Town. 311215. READY TO GO: Members of the Santam District Six Entertainers at the Castle of Good Hope. The minstrel troupe is one of dozens that will march through the Cape Town city centre today(sat) for the annual Tweede Nuwe Jaar minstrel parade. Story Jan Cronje. Picture: LEON LESTRADE

Cape Town - The city’s Taj Hotel has publicly apologised and retracted a request that the Cape Malay Choirs nagtroepe not play music outside the hotel, after it claimed that the festivities would disturb “very high-rate paying visitors”.

“I wholeheartedly apologise for the request I made that the Cape Minstrels consider sleeping hotel guests by not playing music loudly in front of the hotel during its New Year’s Eve overnight Parade,” Michael Pownall, the luxury hotel’s general manager, said.

“I recognise in retrospect that my request…was insensitive and would like to retract it.”

But the retraction came too late to avert a storm of protest that broke on social media after the request, became public.

Pownall emailed the request on Tuesday, the day before the Cape Malay Choirs nagtroepe marched through the city centre. It was addressed to Garreth Bloor, the city’s mayoral committee member for tourism.

“They should just march past and into Adderley Street without music,” said Pownall, adding that guests would “seriously complain if they cannot sleep due to this event”.

In an email to colleagues, Bloor then asked whether there could be “some sort of commitment that music will not be allowed”.

The e-mail and Bloor’s response were leaked and soon appeared on social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

“I think Taj management need to cancel the request they made,” posted Radia Ismail Jacobs on the hotel’s Facebook page.

“These holiday makers came to Cape Town to experience the culture.”

Others accused the hotel of not showing Cape Town’s culture the requisite respect.

On Thursday Bloor said the hotel’s request was passed on to the event organisers, the normal procedure with such appeals.

He confirmed that a noise exemption certificate had been issued for the event.

“However, realistically, trying to silence about 15 000 participants is not possible, more especially since this event is an intrinsic part of the Cape Malay culture.”

Pownall, meanwhile, said the hotel “warmly embraced the rich heritage of Cape Town” and respected the “integral part that the Cape Minstrels and its parades play in Cape Town culture”.

[email protected]

Saturday Argus