16/10/2017 16:44 SAST | Updated 16/10/2017 17:22 SAST

Spur Cans Its Racism Panel Out Of The Blue

"The panel is disappointed in this outcome as the members were committed to being part of this innovative idea from Spur."

The panel 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 has been cancelled.

"Spur requested, for its own reasons, at the 11th hour that the panel not go ahead," head of the panel and North-West University law professor Elmien du Plessis told Huffpost SA on Monday.

"The panel is disappointed in this outcome as the members were committed to being part of this innovative idea from Spur," she said.

A video of the incident of a white male patron threatening a black woman went viral on social media in March with the man subsequently being banned from going to any Spur.

This led to a boycott by some customers who believed white people were being treated unfairly, fuelled by minority-rights group AfriForum and trade union Solidatity.

Spur CEO Pierre van Tonder then wrote an open letter to Solidarity's Dirk Hermann, slamming him for endorsing the boycott and accusing him of wanting to gain political leverage.

"I am surprised to see a trade union leader implicitly calling for a boycott and embrace an uninformed narrative without considering the effect such a boycott will have on the jobs of South Africans," Van Tonder said in the statement.

"... you seem more interested in scoring political points from the hate campaign against Spur orchestrated by Front Nasionaal on social media," he said.

However, Solidarity denied these allegations and said it was simply voicing the "unheard" views of Spur customers.

Spur then asked Du Plessis to convene an independent committee that would be given full access to all facts and footage surrounding the event.

However, the panel was "postponed" to ease the backlash following pressure from patrons still threatening a devastating boycott of the restaurant chain.

Du Plessis also said the company needed full commitment from Spur outlets for the matter to be resolved accordingly. "For an independent panel like this to have a real impact, it needs commitment from the entity being investigated to consider and implement the findings of the panel," she said.

Now the panel has been suddenly halted completely.

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.

HuffPost SA could not reach Spur management for comment despite trying to get hold of Van Tonder several times.

This story will be updated as soon as a response is received.