#WeAreNotBaboons: racially-abused employees speak out at KZN hotel [Update]

#wearenotbaboons tahbasil twitter kzn hotel racism

#WeAreNotBaboons went viral Sunday after a video of employees speaking out against racism at a KwaZulu-Natal hotel was published to Twitter.

On Saturday, @TahBasil pleaded for journalists to cover a “life and death” story.

“Please please. We are a broken people,” he continued.

“We have been working under too much racism from the management of our hotel. We are called Monkeys, baboons, useless black people, fucking muntus, women the age of my mother are called bitches and we have been trying to get hold of the owner.”

Owner Richard Poynton further clarified the incident in an email to Memeburn on Monday.

“Our Front of House managers are having an altercation with our ESTATE MANAGER and it came to a head on Saturday. They asked for a meeting which we attended but because the Estate Manager was not there it was postponed till Monday,” he explained.

#WeAreNotBaboons began trending on Twitter after a video of employees addressing racial discrimination at a KZN hotel went viral

“That evening the managers walked out after giving the ‘speech’ — the one on Twitter — to our guests and I was called immediately.

“We all had a sit down together and they stated that the Estate Manager was the problem. They all had their say and yesterday morning at 7 am we parted company with both the Hotel Manager and the Estate Manager. We then had a meeting with the staff involved and they were happy with the outcome and reiterated that they did not have anything against Cleopatra itself or us as owners,” he added.

The video itself was dramatic.

“We are tired of being called useless black people,” the speaker notes in the video.

“We are tired of being called baboons. We are tired of being called monkeys. And when we tell the boss to come and talk to us, he says no, we’ll talk on Monday. The monkeys are not going to cook your dinner. I’m sorry guys,” the employee concludes.

The clip had been viewed over 29 000 times, before it was removed from Twitter.

According to @TahBasil, a number of guests left the restaurant after the speech. Others however welcomed the courage shown by the employees.

“I’m happy that after this speech some guests (all White) walked out and some came to us, bought us deinks [sic] all 8 of us and applauded us for standing up for what is right,” he tweeted.

Update: After promising Twitter an update on the developing #WeAreNotBaboons story, @TahBasil — Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse’s front of house manager — delivered Monday morning.

“NEW Dawn for us here at work,” he writes in a new tweet. “The stuff that weren’t there during the weekend were addressed by the boss and received news of the fall of people who dehumanized us.”

According to a subsequent tweet quoting head chef and owner Richard Poynton, the hotel’s former estate manager and hotel manager have been relieved of their jobs.

“We do NOT condone the comments made by the Estate Manager and we have dealt with the matter swiftly to everyone’s satisfaction so we are hoping that this is not going to be blown out of all proportion,” Poynton told Memeburn in the aforementioned email.

“We do not need to spread unnecessary strife at this optimistic time in the life of South Africans.

“We are a closely knit, happy hotel with wonderful staff – who have been working together for years – and should this altercation between staff members get out of hand in the media it will detrimentally affect the livelihoods of this very rural community as each of the 40 staff members we employ  ‘looks after’ at least 6 other people,” Poynton concluded.

Edit: new information received from owner Richard Poynton and front of house manager @TahBasil has been added to the above article for clarification.

Feature image: screenshot, @TahBasil via Twitter

Andy Walker
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