NEWS

Spur Ghosts Media After Canning Racism Panel

"Do not call him on this number again."

19/10/2017 16:47 SAST | Updated 19/10/2017 21:58 SAST
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Spur CEO Pierre van Tonder.

Spur has remained tight-lipped about cancelling a panel that was expected to do an in-depth investigation into an alleged racist incident that happened at Texamo Spur at The Glen Shopping Centre earlier this year.

After numerous calls to Spur CEO Pierre Van Tonder and emails to the company's headquarters, the restaurant chain had by Thursday afternoon -- more than 48 hours after initially approached -- not responded to questions about the matter.

On Tuesday, a Spur employee known only as Gayle answered Van Tonder's phone and requested that he not be contacted on his personal cellphone.

"Please call on his [Van Tonder's] landline, do not call him on this number again."

She then suggested that HuffPost SA send an email about our inquiry. These emails were never responded to.

Earlier this week, HuffPost SA learnt that the panel was cancelled at the last minute. Panel head Professor Elmien du Plessis said they were informed at the 11th hour that they would no longer be required to probe the infamous altercation between a white man and a black woman, which led to a racist row and a boycott of the restaurant by mainly white, Afrikaans-speaking patrons, fueled by trade union Solidarity and Afrikaner rights organisation AfriForum.

A video of the exchange went viral on social media and the male patron was subsequently banned from going to any Spur, after an investigation by the restaurant.

This led to the boycott, as some customers believed white people were being treated unfairly.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel told HuffPost SA that Spur "made the right decision" by cancelling the probe. Kriel alleged that Du Plessis had an "anti-Afrikaans agenda".

"If you look at Professor du Plessis' track record, she is well-known for her anti-Afrikaans activism at the Potchefstroom University [North-West University] as well as many other people who are involved in the issue from Spur's side (sic)...

"We believe that such a panel, where the chairperson has a specific activism point of view she promotes, would not have been beneficial to find a solution," he said.

The panel was expected to make recommendations to Spur on actions that should be taken to improve its reaction to similar incidents in future, after meetings which were scheduled to take place in the first week of October.

Kriel said that Spur's nationwide roadshow was a better alternative to the panel.

Du Plessis has rubbished claims made by Kriel.

"I have not been involved in any anti-Afrikaans activism. I see these as vague allegations without giving concrete examples on which he bases his opinion," she said.