Morgen Briel, 19, serves brownies to customers at Brownies & Downies. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Brownies & Downies co-owner Wendy Schultz has been unbanned from South Africa as of today, which will allow her to return and resume running her restaurant which trains and employs special needs staff members. 

The future of popular Long Street cafe Brownies & Downies was hanging in the balance after Schultz had been barred from re-entering the country for 5 years and was stuck in the Netherlands, allegedly due to a paperwork bungle at Home Affairs. Schultz was desperate to turn to her husband, Wade Schultz, as well as the restaurant that they run together.

Brownies & Downies trains young people with intellectual disabilities including Down’s Syndrome, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and autism. They learn to serve as waiters, make coffee, help in the kitchen and clean around the restaurant. 

Live on Cape Talk radio earlier today, host Kieno Kammies informed Schultz that Home Affairs had lifted her ban.

Kammies read out a letter from the Department of Home Affairs’s Ronney Marhule, which said:

“The request for the waiving of the undesirable status has been considered and was successful. The department has therefore decided to remove the restrictions placed upon your name with immediate effect.”

Wendy was immediately overjoyed but in disbelief, as she said over the phone from the Netherlands that she had not yet heard anything directly from Home Affairs. 

But Department of Home Affairs Cape Metro co-ordinator, Sam Plaatjies, was present in studio and confirmed the letter to be authentic.

“That's great! That is the best news!,” Wendy said. “That is absolutely amazing, thank you so much and thank you to your contact at Home Affairs.”

Meanwhile, the staff at Brownies & Downies had been sorely missing Wendy and were fearful for the future of the business if she couldn’t return.

Chanté Desmore, 21, has worked at the restaurant since it opened its doors in Cape Town three years ago. She does many different jobs around the shop, including waiting tables, making coffee, helping in the kitchen and cleaning. 

Her mother Samantha Desmore said that working at the shop has been an incredibly positive experience that has had repercussions in Chante’s home life too.

“She’s more independent now, she does much more at home also,” Samantha said. 

“Wendy (Schultz) does an amazing job with the Down’s Syndrome, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and autistic kids. Every time my daughter asks me when Wendy is coming back. They are missing her a lot.”

Weekend Argus