NEWS

Assaulted Ocean Basket Employee Not To Lay Charges

"He didn’t hit him because he’s black, he just lost his cool and the employee really did do something that was not acceptable."

09/08/2017 12:24 SAST | Updated 09/08/2017 12:24 SAST
Ocean Basket.com/Online

The employee of the Ocean Basket outlet in Benoni will not lay charges against the owner for assaulting him, the CEO of the chain of seafood restaurants said on Tuesday.

"He has chosen to stay in the restaurant, and he is not going to press charges at this stage," Grace Harding told News24.

"He understands his rights. He understands what he can and cannot do, and he told me that he was choosing not to do anything at this stage."

He was receiving counselling. The franchisee would never be allowed to own another Ocean Basket in future.

The assault, at the restaurant in Lakefield, was caught on camera and found its way onto social media. Harding said it probably happened in July, and the video only came to their attention on August 2.

She and her executives met the owner of the franchise last Friday and he was immediately removed from the restaurant.

The staff was being retrained and a new manageress had been appointed.

In the video, the man shakes his head and puts his hands together as a heavy slap lands on the left side of his face. He holds his cheek and reels back, past a row of fridges while the white man advances towards him. The owner strikes him four times. He puts his hands in his pockets and says something inaudible to the employee before kicking him in the chest and abdomen.

The restaurant has since apologised in a Facebook post.

He walks away and leaves the assaulted employee with his hand on his face, staring down at a chest freezer.

The assault was apparently prompted by the staffer breaking a rule. Harding said she was not at liberty to disclose what he had done wrong.

"I want to protect the employee. My concern is that if I say what it is and eventually people know who he is, it's not good for him. It's the normal stuff that happens in a restaurant. They were having a chat and the owner has admitted that he just lost his cool. He regrets losing his cool. He's lost a business. He feels very saddened by it," she said.

"This is a bad mistake. The employee knows that he shouldn't have done what he did, and of course, we don't condone the manner in which it was dealt with."

Harding said the employer had apologised and was remorseful. The employee has apparently accepted the apology.

She said the assault was not racially motivated.

"He didn't hit him because he's black, he just lost his cool and the employee really did do something that was not acceptable."

An employee who answered the phone at the restaurant said the assaulted worker had been overwhelmed by the support he had received.

"This is not something we tolerate and we're shocked and upset beyond expression," he said, refusing to be identified.

Another employee, who also asked not to be named, said the worker drank some of the alcohol in the restaurant and did not want to lay charges because he was scared of losing his job. He claimed the owner "does that all the time".