Manager of Hennie’s Sports Bar and Restaurant in Moreleta Park arrested for serving non-alcoholic gin and tonic
Pretoria - The sale of a non-alcoholic gin and tonic drink and a subsequent eight-hour stint in a police cell by the manager of Hennie’s Sports Bar and Restaurant in Moreleta Park may cost the SAPS dearly.
Atrayo Nolte is adamant he will institute a damages claim against the police, who stormed the popular restaurant a week ago and insisted that he was serving a patron an alcoholic drink.
For Nolte, it is not about the money or the harrowing time he spent in a filthy cell at the Garsfontein police station, but a matter of principle.
“They made me feel like a criminal. The more I tried to explain it was a non-alcoholic gin and tonic, the more they accused me of selling alcohol,” he said.
Speaking to the Pretoria News, Nolte said he was at the bar around mid-morning last Friday when three patrons whom he had not seen before walked in.
“They insisted on being served with an alcoholic drink, but I kept on telling them we only had non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic gin and tonic (Soho Grand, which comes in premixed bottles).”
After they had their breakfast, some in the group ordered non-alcoholic beer, while others ordered a gin and tonic. “They asked whether I would ’make it nice’ for them’. I repeated that all we have and may sell under the recent Covid-19 regulations is non-alcoholic drinks.”
Nolte said moments after he had served the table with their non-alcoholic drinks, three police officers stormed into the restaurant.
“They refused to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations by signing in and having their temperatures taken. One of them just kept on shouting ’show us the alcohol’.
Nolte said he kept telling them that they did not have alcohol. Their stock was locked-up in the storeroom.
He showed the officers the bottles of non-alcoholic premixed bottles of gin and tonic which he had served, but according to him they were not interested. He also told them that they could do a breathalyser test on the patrons served with the drink, but this was also refused.
According to him, one of the officers said he took a sip and to him, it was definitely an alcoholic drink.
Nolte said he took the officers to the storeroom and showed them the sealed bottles of alcohol and the closed boxes containing bottles of alcoholic drinks.
The police confiscated the stock and Nolte and some of the other employees even helped the SAPS carry it to the car. He said even the non-alcoholic Soho Grand bottles were confiscated.
Nolte said he was told to follow the officers to the Garsfontein police station, which he did. There he was told to sign a document, which he thought was an inventory for the alcohol which was taken.
“I asked whether I could go home now, but I was told to follow an officer down a passage, which I did. Next moment I was asked whether I knew my rights and I was told to take off my belt and my shoelaces. I had no idea what was happening.”
Nolte said he was taken into a cell, which became his home for the next eight hours, until the owner of the sports pub and restaurant, Werner Pretorius, who was not there at the time of the raid, managed to secure bail for him.
“It was a nightmare in the holding cell. Inmates did not wear masks and I had to spend the entire time on a concrete floor. One inmate was kind enough to give me his blanket.”
Nolte meanwhile appeared in the Hatfield court on Tuesday on charges of violating the Covid-19 regulations.
The State, however, refused to prosecute due to a lack of evidence.
Nolte, a father of two, said his biggest fear, is that he could give his five-month pregnant wife and children Covid-19 after his stint in the cells.
His lawyer, Alet Uys, is meanwhile in negotiations with the SAPS to get the confiscated alcohol back. She said they were definitely pushing ahead with a damages claim.
An upset Pretorius meanwhile said if the SAPS took five minutes to listen to Nolte’s explanation instead of insisting that he sold alcohol, none of this would have happened.