Thursday, February 26, 2015

Using my white privilege

So the other day my friend, who happens to be black, sent me a text: could I please call this number and book a table for six people for the following evening. Her dad had tried and was told it was fully booked. He suspected racism.

Well, I thought , or rather hoped, it's the holiday season, tourists everywhere, chances are, the place is fully booked.

But I was wrong. I got a booking no problem.

I even asked twice: are you sure, you have a table for six people tomorrow evening? The friendly lady said, yes, that's confirmed. She took my name and number and that was that.

Needless to elaborate on my feelings of outrage, frustration, dismay and the whole scale in between.
I was gutted.

My friend thought about not going (rather not give them her money on top of the insult that is) - but at the end of the day, what would that achieve?

We had talked before about claiming white spaces as a means to fight racism,  but should people really have  to spend their friend- and family-time in a racist environment, being stared at and whispered about at the very least, and possibly openly insulted?

But then again, I suppose this is the every day reality of black people in predominantly white spaces - so what difference does it make if its just another day in white suburbia, or rather Camps bay in that case?

They did go.

And were told at reception: Sorry, we don't have a booking under that name.


My phone rang, as I was bathing my kids. My friend only says: "Apparently you did not book..." and hands over the phone to a flustered receptionist, who clearly did not expect those black people she was about to send away  to have a white back up at the other end of that phone.

I don't think she got the first word in before I literally lost the plot.

I shouted and fumed and said lots of things that could have been formulated much better and more to the point, but what the hell. She got the message and suddenly could not apologise enough.

And yes, she would look after my friends, they would get extra special treatment which, it later emerged, really translated into her trying to squeeze them into a corner of the restaurant, where the sight of them would not offend the other diners. On top of that they were told to keep their voices down, because " there are other people dining here as well" .

Yep, just when you think this could actually not get any worse, they get told off by a snotty white student waitress like a bunch of rowdy kids on a playground.

At that point, my friends demanded to see the manger, who apologised (again) and got them a  table amongst the white folk. They got offered drinks and food on the house to make up for the "misunderstanding" but they politely declined.

Surprise, surprise:  these black folk did not make a fuss in order to avoid paying their bill, they actually wanted an apology from the waitress. Which they did not get.

At first.

My dialogue weathered friend however cornered her in the course of the evening and gave her a crash course on her racist attitude and how to handle herself in future - and guess what? She actually relented, apologised and even reflected on how she would make sure not to repeat her demeaning behaviour towards fellow humans in future.


"I don't even care" says my friend, "as long as she thinks twice before treating people like second class citizens again."

And that might just happen.

Now, before you start cheering and clapping: This is not a win.

This is not even a success.

This is only  the tip of the iceberg.  It is finally a small piece of evidence for the existence of the living, breathing and widely ignored elephant in the room of white privilege.

Giving half a chance, this incident would have been swept under the carpet as a "misunderstanding", my friends been made the stereotypical "angry black people", who are "playing the race card" to free load or get into a place they don't have a right to be in.

What made all the difference this time, was our team effort in pointing out the beast. My voice of white privilege made a small crack in the armour of denial and my white anger could not be dismissed. I used the power of my privilege to vent, threaten and ultimately claim a space in this room for my friends to be seen and heard instead of ignored and dismissed.

This is not something to be proud of. It is a shameful, sad, frustrating and enraging state of affairs 20 odd years after Apartheid officially ended.

I do however feel cautiously optimistic at the thought that three years of dialogue have united a small group of us in teaming up and exposing the beast. So maybe, just maybe we are on the right track and if more will join us in dialogue, we will at least disturb the delusional slumber of white complacency, which to this day insists that apartheid is over and racism does not exist anymore.

Oh and just in case you want to book a table and test the waters: The 12 Apostles in Camps Bay, are waiting for your call.

And join our face book group, if you want to be a part of the conversation: this dialogue thing -
Open for business



  1. Oh, liberal Cape Town. Rename the place 'Twelve Bigots'.

  2. Hi Martina! Would it be possible to send me your contact details. I'm a reporter for Die Burger newspaper and would like to follow this up. My email address is
    Kind regards

  3. Please will you post a link to the facebook group.

  4. Hi Martina, please could you send me your contact details, I'm from the Cape Argus newspaper and would like to follow up on this story, getting in touch with both you and your friend.

    Send me your details to:

    Kind Regards

  5. Hi. Please cAn you post the name of the reataurant. I think it's important to make it known and I'd like to be sure they never get my support. I hope this was also made known on Trip Advisor.

    1. Why not read to the end of the article and you will find the name!

  6. Special message to GUNNAGIRLS

    Thank you for your recent posting, highlighting the very unfortunate event occurring with your friend, and also yourself, as a result of a reservations error that took place on our part at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa over the holiday season. The allegations put forward are taken very seriously, personally, and deeply by the owners, management and staff of the Twelve Apostles and we strongly refuse to accept being branded as a racist hotel.

    Before I explain what happened, I think it is important that it must be categorically stated that The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, and the owners who are proud South Africans themselves, have zero tolerance when it comes to prejudice of any kind, be it racism or any other form of discrimination. Our hotel is one of South Africa’s leading luxury hotels, admired, awarded and visited by guests from across South Africa and the world.
    As a result, during peak seasons of Christmas and New Years, we are fortunate to have high demand on the hotel. When this occurs, as is the case in many leading hotels and restaurants across the city, country and world, challenges and mistakes occur due to overbookings, lack of confirmations of bookings, last minute cancellations, unscheduled arrivals, or erroneous bookings. Still, when such problems occur, the staff of Twelve Apostles goes out of their way to find solutions to ensure guest satisfaction.

    Having conducted a thorough investigation in the case of the event that occurred with your friends, on the 27th December 2014, it was ultimately and exclusively due to pure human error on the part of our reservations and for this we are truly sorry and we have already apologized to the party involved.
    When your friends arrived at the hotel for their much anticipated dining experience, the table that they believed to have been booked was unfortunately reallocated. The error was, no question, ours.
    Still, in an effort to find a solution, they were offered the exclusive private dining venue on a complimentary basis, as at the time, it was the only available table in the house. Your friends declined this offer, preferring to remain in the restaurant for dinner. As yet another cancellation occurred , the Asst Manager quickly seated your friends, where they then stayed on for dinner. This was a difficult predicament and we are sorry it was interpreted for rudeness.

    Once again we are truly sorry for what happened and I have personally taken the matter up with your friend, making clear the source of the error, apologising for their disappointing service experience. We hope and look forward to inviting you with them to showcase what we really are famous for.

    Michael Nel, General Manager

    1. 4 opportunities to dispel implications of racism but all missed. Experience suggests that the incident was racist. It sounds racist and yet it may indeed be a series of missteps. Perhaps the manager should admit that in the face of what transpired, it may indeed seem like a racist incident. Apologise and acknowledge to the customer or anyone else that something is being done to sensitise the staff and that this will not happen in the future. The receptionist should not under any circumstance take reservations. If restaurant is fully booked, take down the name of the booking party and offer to call them should a cancellation occur. This is only fair. If people arrive and there is no reservation, offering a private room and complimentary food seems to suggest guilt. Now the fact that people enjoyed their meal and commended the waiter has nothing to do with this story except to show that the guests had no malice and clearly planned to enjoy themselves and it could also mean the waiter is utterly professional as compared to the management. Many opportunities missed and for such an establishment, customer care does seem haphazard.

  7. I am not trying to excuse what happened but I am black and stay in Hout Bay. My family and I often visit 12 Apostles and Spa. I have never encountered any racial prejudice there.


    1. Hi Mpush

      I'm black and live in Hout Bay too.
      I've been to The 12 Apostles several times and just like you , have never experienced racism there. However, just because it did not happen to me you and me, does not mean it cannot or did not happen to others like you and me.
      I have unfortunately experienced similiar treatment from other establishments (especially rental estate agencies and clubs) in Cape Town. Perhaps what we can take out of this article is ti acknowledge that such occurrences are not rare in this beautiful city. Hopefully these kind of ugly stories can bring about change.

  8. Please post the facebook link to this discussion.

    I would also like to see that the 12 Apostles Hotel is no longer supported until they can offer reasonable acknowledgement of their behaviour.
    Erroneous booking is a poor and transparent response in light of the reported sequence of events. Ineptness is a poor cover for bigotry.

    Reasonable acknowledgement is not denial, explaination or excuses. But a sincere recognition of the experience of the human beings that were subjected to bigotry by your establishment.

  9. This apology, though! Puh-LEASE, 12 Apostles. At least have the guts to face this head on. But no, they're going to pretend it was a "mistake". Read this guy's apology: Coincidence after coincidence after coincidence. Does he think we're stupid?

    I think they're doing MORE damage by running away from this.

  10. Shame, it was a bad day maybe, i also went ther with my gals as a group, we had a high tea ther and we didnt exp such, only place i don eva wanna go to is ocean basket in water front. Racial issues ther

  11. I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe that this incident was due to overbooking or an error by booking staff. It smells of deffinite racism and stinks of poor management when nothing is mentioned of corrective action. Victims don't want appologies or to be bought out with free goods. They want to ensure that their pain wasn't in vain. That no-one else will be treated in the same manner. But for now it seems come December 27, 2015, another black family can have the same experience from 12 Appostles because no corrective action had been implemented.

    Just by coincidence when the white person phoned for a reservation after the black person was declined, there was a booking available. Then after the black people were turned away at the door, it took some more convincing by the white person to ensure that their booking was indeed there but had erroneously been realocated? What?

    Seriously. How dumb does Mr. Michael Nel think his audience is? His response is as insulting as much as it is disappointing.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. A more balanced view of what went down:

    But no matter what I dont think anyone could change your minds about if they are guilty or not. You have made them up.

  14. A more balanced view? Wow! Why would anyone make up this story hence creating an unbalanced view? I had a similar situation where I called for a flat. It was taken and then asked a friend of mine to call for me and he got an appointment and my boss then called the landlady wondering what happened and the same excuse was offered. Just too many coincidences to leave it to chance

  15. Yes, an unfortunate series of incidents -but then, don't these sometimes happen? I have only ever had the most excellent experiences at 12 Apostles - and from our time spent there (meals and overnight stays) I have only ever seen the guests around us receiving the same - regardless of colour / gender or any other factor. A peek at the hotel's Facebook page shows a variety of guests posting images of good times at the hotel. Are we saying the hotel is ok with some black people, some times - but not others?

    Yes, the hotel stuffed up - through a series of events that culminated in a pretty horrible situation. Is Michael's explanation unreasonable? No. Is it impossible that these series of events may have occurred? No. It's peak season, bookings change by the minute, mistakes happen - blame the employees for being sloppy - yes.

    I'm one of the first to shout 'racism' if I see it - and, if it turns out that that is what transpired and 12 Apostles is lying, then I will be in the front of the crowd to lynch them - but knowing the hotel and some of the team - I truly believe it was an honest (uncomfortable, unfortunate) mistake.

  16. Fact; The person who "sounded black was told the restaurant was fully booked.
    Fact: not even 2 minutes later the person who sounds white gets a booking for the exact time and number of people as previously denied.
    Fact: upon arrival the black people were told there is no space for them and no booking was made.
    Fact: after the white person calls and threatens with social media exposure there is suddenly space - even in the restaurant.
    fact_ the black guests get told off in a fashion that never happened to me in an upmarket restaurant

    facts that are all unfortunate events and misunderstandings?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Can we all please discuss the fact that the black patrons of the 12 Apostles were asked to be quiet because of other diners?

    That on it's own is problematic for me.

    Own your racism please. Its all we need.

  18. An unfortunate series of incidents do happen, but for simplicity, we call them what they are. If you stepped outside, you get wet, it is not raining and your neighbour is standing a flour above and has his genitalia out: There are a few possibilities, but the simplest one is that your neighbour just peed on you. It is possible air malaysia was flying above your home and someone flushed their toilet or that an alient from mars invisible to you thought you were so hot, it had to cool you down. However, the simplest explanation based on the evidence is that your neighbour just pee'd on you. No one is discounting that 99.999% of people that visited this establishment had the best time of their lives and that such incident has never happened before, but considering that similar incidents have happened before and they were considered racist, it is hard to combine these four and then somehow precludes racism, because as Candice you would be the first to shout racism. Also, another issue to consider is that here is an upstanding family that believe they were victims of racism. They turned down an offer of a private room and a free meal (over R1000). They took a principled stance when others would have been seduced by a chance not to pay. So, what else do they have to gain by accusing this establishment (with verifyable facts from a third party and confirmed by the restaurant). Why is it easy that these black people can conjure up a story, but so hard that a manager piecing together a story from those on duty could be misinformed? Now, I do not know you candice and have no idea what you consider to be racist, but you are now asking us to trust your judgement despite the fact, because you say so. You have not presented us with any reason why you are a better judge of racist incidents than the Mpofu's and you will have us believe that you constantly look around for racial experiences of others and your judgement should hence be the defacto standard by which racial prejudice should be charged? What you believe is one thing, but the facts are another. The facts indicate 4 independent situations where racism can be inferred. Individually, they can be taken as a misunderstanding, but combined, it simply becomes too much to simply leave this to one person to decide that is was all a mistake. The simplest explanation is that it was racist and another simple explanation is that perhaps the management may not live the ideals of the establishment. It is possible that the establishment does not endorse such a behaviour and that they will act to clear their name. But none of that can discount the simple conclusion that this may have been a racist incident. I do not advocate a boycott, but rather visit the establishment and make it uncomfortable for the racist of they exists there.

  19. Spot on!
    Just because you don't see doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

  20. There is a whole sequence of events here, which would constitute a wild collection of coincidences if Mr Nel's explanation is to be believed. It's stretching my credibility beyond what is reasonable. The hotel needs to do better. Starting with a public apology, and an all expenses paid holiday at the hotel for the family - not to pay them off to show that there's a sincere, serious substance to the apology. Don't make excuses Mr Nel, just take responsibility, commit to this type of thing NEVER happening again, and make good.

    That said - it's offensive that Cape Town is constantly picked on because of isolated racist incidents. That's racist in itself. There's no doubt that racism still exists in this country - in all directions - but can anyone seriously suggest that this type of thing doesn't happen in other cities, and to the same if not a greater extent?

  21. The incident is fairly typical and illustrative of the deep pathology in South African society:

    An overtly racist person calls a restaurant for a booking, and is informed that they are fully booked. Since she is a racist, she immediately suspects racism, and decides to create an incident, instead of just calling another restaurant, as any other normal and decent person would do.

    In the minds of people like these, any circumstance not aligned with their immediate gratification eventually in one way or another reduces to racism.

    That is bad enough, but then this malignant behaviour is somehow approved of, applauded and encouraged, as being “the right thing to do!”, as being the inalienable right of the spoilt brats of a diseased nation.

    1. Maybe there's something you're missing in this story, Jack. Let's go through it systematically.

      Black person tries to book and is told there's not table available.
      His white friend makes exact same booking and is happily told there is space and booking confirmed.
      Black people arrive under white friend's booking and are told no such booking exists. It never happened.
      They are given a space only because white person spoke to restaurant on the phone and shouted at someone (one wonders why this had to happen first before the space was eventually offered).

      You will see that in each step of this whole deal, the white person had to involve herself for things to happen. Not once did she even have to make a physical appearance, yet the hotel staff gave her more respect and acknowledgement than the very black people standing in from of them. You can pretend that this was all innocent and unfortunate mishaps, but one wonders what exactly needs to happen for you, and a lot of other white people in SA unfortunately, to realise that racism still exists in various forms and white privilege is an actual thing. I'd suggest that you do experiment with similar situations with a black friend of yours and see how it goes. Something tells me that you are so deep in denial that you couldn't be bothered. Would love to be proven wrong though.

  22. Jack, never let the facts stand on the way of a good story. The fact that it was a man who made the initial call and they had no problem until he mentioned his name can only be an inconvenience for your version of truth, so invent a reality that suits you. Yeah!

  23. The hotel industry is littered with variables that indeed warrant many strange coincidences occurring.

    On top of that, inexperienced staff make the strangest of mistakes, that of which have made me cringe as a manager on several occasions.

    Finally I don't believe the 12 apostles asks every individual, "are you racist?", "Yes", "well then, you're hired!" Therefore calling the hotel racists because of the actions of potentially a minuet quantity of individuals is very very very negligent and serious responsibility must be taken by the author when considering writing an article of this sorts. Many innocent individuals who work there rely on their jobs. Seeing a decline in business due to an article like this will affects those parties first not the hotel.... And papers like those listed in the article wishing to create more media hype will further enforce a negative impact on a facility and the innocent parties that work there.

    A responsible method of approach may have been to contact the GM directly first and foremost so that he could have acted. To defend actions or act accordingly on this platform is almost impossible. You cannot satisfy the public on every level and give an answer which feeds every individuals lust to be heard. Allow a company to deal with situations so that there is a responsible outcome and that the core issue is eradicated, instead you now have attention focused on the wrong area and the livelihood of others hanging in the loom....

  24. @David Viaene
    The 702 report actually makes the hotel look even more shady. According to the article you've referenced as 'more balanced,' the first 2 patrons to arrive were given the table and were already seated, no problem. When the rest of the party arrived, they were told there is no such booking, even though 2 people under that booking were already seated at the table?? The 2 were then asked to move (why?). That just sounds dodgy.

  25. Zwi, I know of plenty of ‘black’ restaurants around which I would not have the effrontery to call to make a reservation and say that my name is Jack Claxton. And if I do, I would fully expect that a table previously available would become suddenly unavailable.

    I am perfectly convinced that this is not what happened here - that The Twelve Apostles Hotel acted throughout in good faith. But that is what is being implied here, so I will continue with the analogy. Amongst others, I do so to point out the ultimate racism: To tolerate racist behaviour from Blacks but not from Whites.

    To continue: I could then also successfully find a black person to make the reservation for me. I put it to you, Zwi, that to deliberately and knowingly provoke this situation is rude, uncultured and essentially aggressive. I would very much suspect an agenda at work here, the behaviour of a fundamentally dishonest person.

    For this reason, I am very much of the opinion that Martina Dahlmanns should be exposed on social media as an asinine bigot. Maybe it is a case of having taken too much of on board of people such as Gillian Schutte and ilk – self loathing, self hating, white hating, resentful incompetents, hiding their superficial grievances behind a facade of self-righteous snottiness.

  26. I have never imagined myself commenting on this forum, today I am. I have worked for this hotel for 7 years. 7 years of which I was groomed from the townships of Khayelitsha as a glass washer to an experienced, well-travelled sommelier who has been to London 4 times. I have never come across an establishment so committed to the development of their staff. If you don't know the core values of the Twelve Apostles, and you don't apply logic so much, then I forgive you for calling them racists. They are responsible in the hospitality sector for having changed the lives of so many Black people. They even offered incentives for Black staff to offer academic courses at any institution of which they will proudly pick up the bill without reservations. By the time I have left the hotel, I have seen cleaners, runners, etc. from various townships having passports stamped in London Heathrow. Not a cent paid by staff, in fact the hotel even offered money for staff to spend on whatever they want in London. I have never seen a hotel that values their staff so much.

    Mpofu, I don't know you but please, kindly apply logic and common sense when placing a complain, that way, your complaint will carry credibility. I'm not denying racism anywhere, I have seen a number of very well 'distinguished' Black guests asking only to be served by Blacks. Not once did the hotel complain about racist patrons. They only thought of it in logic and common sense. Reverse that and, let's say, an Afrikaaner, with very poor English asking to be served by an Afrikaans speaking person, then we will have this. Racism is an attitude. I am not defending the hotel here. I don't work for them anymore but I know they have changed my life and so many of Black people close to me.

    Can't we live in a world where a Black and White people can disagree, fight and sulk without ever calling the other a racist? If a white man doesn't greet me, is he racist? If a white girl doesn't want to date me, is she a racist? It's 2015 for sakes, 21 years later.

    It's been a mouthful I know but I just thought it necessary to voice my opinion. Thank you.

    Luvo Ntezo

  27. What determines success or failure of a company is how they react to adversity. Companies open and close mainly due to silly mistakes made by management or their staff. Perhaps it is a question to ask whether an employee is racist or not to protect the reputation of your business. As a customer I am not bound by your rules on where to report an issue. We have social media which is why many compAnies have social media consultants to react to negative stories. It is absolute silly blackmail to say we need to accept crap service to avoid someone losing their job. I work in a service orientated business and we offer the same product as 4 other large companies and if we cannot do the job we would lose customers. We do not demand that they take their issue with a GM. Reason service sucks here is because those in service tend to believe they are owed a living by their customers. I don't owe you a living but if your service is good and my experience even better I will return and with more people

  28. Jack Claxton, can you name and shame the 'black' restaurant you refer to that would deny you a reservation on the basis of your name. Name and shame them and let them defend themselves just like Michael Nel? I am also curious as to how you define whether a restaurant is white or black? Is it because of the patrons or the ownership and since you are not bigoted and so open minded, perhaps you can help!

  29. Sabsy, I fully respect the privilege of anybody to do business with me on the basis of my ethnicity and my name. (The government does so as a matter of course). I would not presume to impose either my presence or my concept of morality on anyone else – I leave that to fascists, Marxists, nazis and the congenitally perpetually offended.

  30. You left racist denialist who have no sense of what is offensive

  31. It is clear from what you say that you and a number of other previously disadvantaged youngsters have benefitted from this establishment. For this, they must be commended.
    We do however need to separate a couple of issues. One can have a racist experience in an establishment that opposes racism. The company hires people to be their touch points and every individual has their issues be they good or bad. In a service environment, you should by now know that a bad experience can also affect how you view an establishment in its totality. When people spend money, it is often not because they use the logical part of their brain. They use their emotional part of their brain which suggests that if you treat them with dignity and respect, they may like you even if the food is not great. Take McDonalds. They consistently outshine establishments that offer healthy food and yet on a yearly basis someone comes up with a new story on what sort of food they dish out. Today is pink slime and tomorrow is the quality of their beef. What makes them successful? Customer service. They don’t go around telling customers they are illogical when they complain. They acknowledge each complaint and try to make it better for next time. It is this type of arrogance that often separate us from other international establishments, when someone who relates their personal experience is insulted and told they are illogical for expressing their experience. They did not accept a free meal even when it was offered. This would suggest someone with principles, someone not willing to be bought. They continued to eat at the restaurant with no incident and even commented about the service they received from the waitron. More importantly, they stayed and are not advocating anyone boycott the establishment. Mr Nel acknowledges that there were a series of mishaps which seems to suggest that Mr Nel acknowledges that the clients were hard done by their experience. You do not address any of these co-incidences, suggesting that because the establishments is wonderful to their staff, there is no way mistakes can be made.
    No one doubts what these guys have achieved. Even Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers, employed not only black basketball players but is one of a few that employed a black coach and he is still acknowledged as a racist for what he said about Magic Johnson.
    Your response is not only condescending and avoids addressing the issues, but it makes you come across as the sort of arrogant sommelier who probably would undermine customers from your own background. I hope I am wrong but I am disappointed in your tone of voice and I am concerned that your present employers may not take kindly to how you address customers.

  32. To expect customers should never complain because you once worked for an establishment smacks of arrogances and it does not portray the establishment you are attempting to defend in a good light. Sometimes you can educate a person, but it is not the IQ that they lack, rather the EQ. If, as you point out, you noticed well distinguished “black” customers preferring black waitrons, did you bother to ask why? Surely, it is something you observed and must have bothered you. Yet, you accepted it as an example of racism and I have no reason to doubt your understanding of racism, but yet you completely refuse to acknowledge that on the surface of it, it may be possible for someone to read these “series” of mishaps as racist even when applying logic. Racism is more than an attitude. It is inbuilt and sometimes people can be racist without being aware. It is hence important that it be pointed out and be corrected. Calling those who are brave enough to notice it illogical does not help at all. Even Afrika Malani suggested to Michael Nel that he needs to acknowledge that something went horribly wrong and that in each situation, a non-present white person got better attention than the black people standing infront of the staff. Racism is illogical and these series of mishaps are as illogical, but not the reaction of the Mpofu family. They not only allowed the restaurant to correct the issue, they refused to accept a freebie out of the situation. They stayed and paid and seemingly refused t let the earlier experiences affect their enjoyment of the food and the restaurant.
    Fact is, when someone experience an incident that they believe it is racist, what use is it for them to deny the obvious? Surely, the more we talk about race and expose it, it makes it easier for others to know when they may have transgressed. To simply hide from reality to make it comfortable for some is to hide your head in the sand. There is also a reason restaurant owners do not make up a majority of social engineers. Indeed, one is invested in what they provide to others be it food or service and it is not always easy to accept criticism, but the most successful are those who find a way of turning a bad situation into a good situation. Customers remember that even more clearly. The idea that the numbers of years since 1994 denote that racism is over, betrays your ignorance of the world we live in. I presume in your travels into the US, you would deny that racism exists because slavery has been gone for over 100 years or that Human Rights era of Martin Luther King is over? I admire your achievements as one of a few in your profession, but I would suggest you stick to what you know best.

  33. @Jack. You made an assertion that you know of "black" restaurants that would turn you away on the basis of your race. My question, which I am hoping is straight forward and not complicated is as follows
    1. Name the restaurants you refer to.
    2. How did you identify that they were "black" restaurants. Was it because the owners were "black" or because the patrons were largely black.
    That you do not mind being treated like you do not belong and are not acceptable due to your race is clear from your comments insulting Gillian Schutte for having the temerity to own up to white privilege (why it bothers you is still a mystery). However, you would be a hypocrite if you then imposed your "do not care attitude" towards us. It would be make you exactly what you accuse others of being. Why not let people deal with whatever situation as they see fit and you do the same for yourself? The Mpofus took issue with their treatment. You would, based on your claim, not mind one bit if someone discriminated against you on the basis of race.You believe that the Azur restaurant acted in good faith? Your right to believe whatever you believe, but this is not a matter of belief of fact. To argue that you believe something, even if it is at the opposite end of the reality scale is not for debate. Issue here is that there was an admitted failure. The failures were specific and have already been discussed. They happened within a 36 hour period with the same establishment. In each situation, the intervention of a white person positively influenced the outcome and each time the Mpofu experience without white intervention could be construed to be prejudicial, and even racist. Is it possible that it was all a big (4) misunderstandings? Of cause, but only a denialist can deny the implication solely on the balance of probability that the incidence had racial overtones at the very least on the part of the participants in this case the person who took the booking and the management team responsible for resolving the matter at the restaurant. You also talk of tolerating racist behaviour from "blacks" and not whites. Can you elaborate on this? You have not acknowledged any white racism and instead you have on several occassions alluded to black racism though you have as yet to provide an example of this black racism you talk of. You have failed to address the actual incident, instead telling us of your belief system. Question I have is, do you acknowledge that there exists racism perpetuated by white people against black people that is informed by whatever reasons (you decide). Perhaps, even before you answer that, perhaps you can define racism so that I can understand exactly where you are coming from. Then you refer to knowingly provoke the situation

  34. Jack (continued)
    How did the Mpofu's knowingly provoke the situation? They wanted to go our as a group of 6 to a restaurant. Mr Mpofu called to make a reservation and was in the process of being assisted. A table for 6 was available for the time they wanted and all was left was to give his name. Upon giving his name, only at this juncture did the reservation suddenly disappear. Again, it is possible that while they were allocating the booking, someone else with access to the booking system was busy with the same table and booked it while Mr Mpofu was being served. It happens and on its own, it is annoying and a system failure, but not necessarily racist. Then, Mr Mpofu sensing something untoward (note that Mr Mpofu had a suspicion and wanted to test it). He then calls Martina to test his suspicion. Martina calls 3 or so minutes later and gets the table and makes the booking. Again, on its own this incident is possible, but since it was Mr Mpofu's purpose to test his theory that this maybe some form of racism, it is not farfetched that he would arrive at such a conclusion. However, he let it go and accepted the booking. The next day they were once again rejected with the claim that no such booking existed. Again, they reverted to their trump card (white privilege) and once again the issue was resolved to their satisfaction. Again, on this own this maybe a failure of the system but not necessarily racist. However, if you combine all 4, it is clear to Mr Mpofu and others who have experienced such incidence of racism that this is a clear case of racism (at least to them). The restaurant acknowledge that there was a problem, hence they offered them a private room and complimentary meal. this is an acknowledgement that something unseemly happened, otherwise if the restaurant was right, why sacrifice a potential R2000 bill for minor mishap, which according to you were deliberate attempts by the Mpofus? Now, I get that facts are not your thing. You despise women that think for themselves and who have no problem acknowledging years and years of benefit based on their melanin content. You, on the other hand have focused more on insults and made no effort to analyse the incident and broach it like a sane logical and reasonable person. You call people asinine and bigots and yet you are the one individual that has demonstrated those characteristics in all your postings. You have implied that the Mpofu had an agenda and yet they not only refused a freebie, but stayed and made the best of a nasty situation. They even had good things to say about those who provided service to them. These are actions of honorable people. They do not deserve to be insulted. They have every right to relate their experience and Mr Nel was afforded the opportunity to respond and he took it. To his credit, he never accused the Mpofus of malice or bad intent. for that reason, I will make a booking to the Azur Restaurant and will invite Mpush and 3 other friends and we will own the space and if that is considered deliverately provocative, then so be it. No one goes out looking for a racist incident especially when they commit more than R2000 in one seating.

  35. More likely the case of a single person being a bigot than the actual establishment or the whole of Cape Town right? We had our wedding at the 12 Apostles & for much of the planning we had a lovely black (yes, a black)woman assisting us & when we stayed over there were many couples of all races. Be careful painting everything as race issue. Usually it's down to that one person.

  36. @LatteMamma. Whether it was by one person or 15 people, it remans a matter of race. When you provide service, even the cleaner or gardner can affect how your establishment is viewed. Again, just becauise you had a wonderful experience does not mean others did not have a terrible experience.

  37. Sabsy - A definition of racism is perhaps in order. The crucial part of which must undeniably be the intent to cause deliberate material or physical harm.

    For instance: It cannot possibly be racist to dislike white (black/yellow/red) people – it would be obscene to demand that of anyone. Just as it cannot possibly be racist to avoid contact with white people or to believe that white people are evil – these are personal beliefs, preferences and opinions. But for a powerful political figure to sing at huge public meetings that white people must be shot, as did Mr. Malema and our president – that is racist in the extreme, since the declared intent clearly is deliberate physical harm.

    In light of this, it is impossible to see how the behaviour of the hotel in question can be racist in any way, even if construed in the way as presented here. There was no intent to do material or physical harm, and none was done.

    However, the behaviour of Dahlmanns is based on her assumptions about racial elements in the situation and by her own admission intends to cause direct material harm to the establishment. It therefore is a clear and deliberate racist attack.

    I do not impose my attitude on you. In the interest of truth and honesty it is however important not to allow Dahlmanns or anyone else to believe that she acted in a ‘good’ or ‘decent’ way, by any rational interpretation of the words. Instead, in truth and in honesty, it really is eminently despicable.

    “Now, I get that facts are not your thing.” - I am puzzled at your inability to connect the dots. I took due cognisance of the few relevant facts and discarded the noise.

    As for white privilege – it is the delusion of a not particularly bright person who needs to rationalise her unfortunate life choices. It posits a behaviour amongst white people where preference and acknowledgement is given to other white people at the expense of everybody else. What it fails to do is to take cognisance of black privilege, and yellow privilege, and red privilege, and so forth. In truth, it is human behaviour common to every single person on this planet, but Schutte feels the need to single it out and identify it as an exclusively white phenomenon. We, the white people, are guilty and we must feel our guilt. This is of course a view to be rejected with extreme contempt. In realty privilege is openly and extensively practiced by everyone, except in a negligible way amongst whites, when it becomes a crime.

  38. I still find it strange and bizarre that people refuse to see this incident to this wonderful family as prejudicial as is, and deserves our harshest condemnation. It will do us a great deal of ubuntu to address the issue. I took offense more from the response of the so called manager, Nel. This guy needs to go. The hotel is superb, that goes without saying, but they do have responsibility to root out the wrong in their establishment.
    It is not only in Cape Town, come to Pretoria. Class exclusion and where you leave and access is strongly evident of how the past segregation laws discriminated against black people. No need for guilty, but a need to join hands to make South Africa better.

  39. People are so quick to assume racism in our country. I cringe everytime I hear the word, as I believe people are over sensitive and believe whatever they want to believe. I was managing a 5 star lodge a while back and was also accused of racism by some guests who were staying there over the December holidays. Now, let me set the scene. It is an exclusive bush lodge in the middle of the bushveld, we have check in times and dinner times and so forth but a family let me know they were going to be a bit late, me being kind decided to keep my staff up waiting for them, they advised they would be there at 20h00, they arrived at 21h30 with a 6 month old baby and a 9 year old girl. We sat them at the inside table that we set for them as it was late and they had small kids. I held their baby out of politeness so they could eat in rest and peace and the exhausted mother could have a break. Our staff carried their bags to their rooms and they retired after thanking us for staying up for them. Breakfast is served between 7 and 9 in the morning. We set all the tables and the guests seat themselves according to who wakes up when. The family who came in late the previous night, again received an inside table as they were last to wake up, again we helped them with the baby in order to make their experience more peaceful and enjooyable. The afternoon we packed the family a picnic bag and they were off. As they had small children and dinner was served at 7pm we set them a table inside again (which we did with the other couple with a small baby also). As I indicated where they would be seated the husband spoke up and asked me if they were constantly seated inside because they were black - because he felt I was being racist. I calmly explained that it was just because they had small children and that if they would prefer to be seated outside I would gladly help them with that, he responded that the children were his and he didn't want any "special/different" treatment because of them. I lay a table for them outside and they were happy, at dinner they asked one of the staff to tend to their baby as we had done to help. I told my staff we are not running a daycare and they need to give the baby back - as they want no special treatment for their kids.

    I did not feel I was being racist at all in seating them inside - I thought it was considerate. Perceived racism is a big thing, and often times there are two sides to the story. The hotel admitted they messed up and offered them complimentary services - if they were being blatantly racist they should have just kept on going and ignored the family. Like I said, many incidents of reported racism are so because of over sensitivity and the so called "victims" being all to race aware.

    1. What do you think of this particular incident Liza Mills?

  40. Jack, your definition of racism is a good starting point.

    However, I disagree with your definition of racism. I am curious as to how you arrived at that definition because it seems entirely based on what others have done in reaction to years of racial discrimination which may or may not have a violent component. There is also a difference between propaganda and racism. Don't have time to elaborate now and will ignore the rest of your input as I disagree with the premise

  41. Liza. As you say, there are two sides to each story and from your side it would seem the individuals were unfair but one would need to understand their side of the story to judge. However to use this example example as typical of how black guests behave is racist. The situations are not the same. Specific examples of what the people considered to be racist. Also, it is presumptuous on your part to dictate when victims of racism should be sensitive about race. I, as a man, would never tell you when to be sensitive about sexism. If you choose to accept all subtle forms because you are insensitive, that is your right. Part of white privilege is to insert themselves in the middle of every discussion and situations have to be judged based on their whims. That is what is wrong with white privilege. You use one example and somehow this is indicative of how 'people' are too sensitive. Now going back to this incident, what is over sensitive about what was reported?

  42. When did our president sign that whites must be shot? I am a little bit fuzzy on that. Malema's singing was declared hate speech. Nowhere did Malema presuppose that black people were superior to white people which is a necessary ingredient of racism. Racism is a belief whether acted out or not which presuppose that an individual is superior to another solely on the basis of their race. Examples of these include slavery, apartheid policies from group areas act to Bantu education and homelands, and colonialism. Violence may or may not necessarily be part of the manifestations of racism. The thought process is enough. Outward demonstrations of racism may take the form of subtle examples like denial of booking by making excuses which on the surface are legitimate but upon further analysis are only used for some. Racism can also be inbuilt in how a person react. If your reaction differs according to race, then it is racist if this presupposes that one deserves better or worse treatment because of their race. Not so subtle forms of racism may be like bridges and Hofmeyr or apartheid policies.

  43. Sounds more like some spoilt white girl trying to make a name for herself by crying racism on behalf of her "friends" - why couldnt they complain themselves - why must you write a blog about it - The hotel has explained themselves and I am sure if you approached them directly instead of going all "social media" you would have got the relevant answers

  44. Good God, Sabsy! So you want to tell me that there are certain thoughts I’m not allowed to have!

    And you’re saying that someone who does not intend nor actually do you any material or physical harm is still a racist?!

    I accept that we are long past the time where I can write what I like – but at least I must still be allowed to THINK what I like? (Can you believe it? These fascists.)

  45. Hi there

    This is disgusting indeed; and the Hotel's apology is itself an insult because it doesn't acknowledge the problem for what it is.

    It is unlikely that the receptionist who took the call would have this sort of attitude at such an establishment if it were not sanctioned, or if she did not believe that she'd be rewarded somehow for it.

    As someone who lives in Cape Town and often goes to the 12 Apostles for sundowners, I really hope that this sort of thing is discouraged by management.


  46. So, what do you say of the truly racist and provocative behaviour of these ‘guests’ and this blogger then, Solly? Do you think is should be actionable?

  47. This story is actually very sad, but I do believe that there is a possibility that this was a misunderstanding, I mean just because you get the last table in the house does not mean you're second class citizens, would your friend have preferred that someone else get the so-called bad table, making her the snob in the situation. And my opinion on the noisy people, is that i absolutely agree that an establishment of a certain class can limit loud and noisy guests. If you want to scream and shout then go to a bar... I'm sorry to say but in this case it seems that your friend was overly sensitive and a lot worse has happened to me, which could also be interpreted as racism, but I didn't jump at the opportunity to go spill the beans through media...

  48. I believe the clients were being overly sensitive, and I believe that judging this situation on race is unfair. I have also worked at restaurants and numerous times have tables became available and unavailable in the blink of an eye. The manager has issued an apology as mistakes from their side had been made, he apologized for any inconvenience. But declaring racism is saying that deliberate mistakes were made, and that is unfair and presumptuous. Many people of color have commented on this blog saying that they were not treated unequally in this particular restaurant. Why would the restaurant single out this family?? Because they were black - no by a series of unfortunate events.

    If however the exact same situation had happened in a township restaurant would the guest not just assume that the receptionist was having a bad day?

    Sasha, I used my example not as you put it, "typical of how black guests behave", but more as a back up to there is two sides to every story and that some people are quick to assume racism just because of the color of a persons skin.

  49. @Jacky. Read the full story. this was not about the last table, but a series of events where awhite person was needed each time to intervene.
    What would you consider properly sensitive? Have you ever been a victim of racism? How did you react? Calling them people of Colour may expose where you are at the transformation table. BTW, what has a township restaurant got to do with this? First, someone mentioned that it would have happened in a "black" restaurant but they failed to provide reasons it would be called a black restaurant and now you throw the township restaurant issue as if your expectation is that blacks should remain in the township? Afterall, Camps Bay is not theirs? I mean seriously, no wonder you do not find reason for people to be sensitive on issues of racism. When you deny someone service because you assume they will be loud because they are black, you are being racist.

  50. @Jack. You can have whatever thoughts you want be they racist or not. I really do not care. It is when your thoughts affect me personally that I take issue. However, just because they are your thoughts does not make them any less racist. You can be racist in your thoughts and in your own person environment as long as it does not affect any. No one is preventing you from choosing who you prefer as your company and I suggest no one will force you either.
    What would you call material harm? Would you consider Bantu Education, Group Areas Act or even Seperate Amenities as material harm? What if I subtly avoid employing people of a certain race because I harbour racist beliefs of superiority? Who decides what constitutes material harm? The harmer or the harmee? If you call someone a kaffir, would you consider that non-racial because in your book it did not constitute material harm? No one said you cannot think whatever you like. You can be as racist in your thoughts and in your home, but the moment your racism affects others, then that is where the problems starts. Again, you seem eager to call people names because you lack the ability to read and understand what is written. I asked you specific questions to try to understand if we can have a civil discussion. I admit I was mistaken in believing you were capable of such a discussion. My bad!! I think our exchange clearly shows that we approach the issues of racism from different aspects. you have added material and physical harm, but you have not referenced where you got the idea that racism has to be material of physical to be racist.

  51. Definitions of Racism
    PREJUDICE “Unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand without knowledge, thought
    or reason.”
    RACISM “Any attitude, action or institutional structure which subordinates a person or
    group because of their color . . . Racism is not just a matter of attitudes;
    actions and institutional structures can also be a form of racism.”
    --from RACISM IN AMERICA AND HOW TO COMBAT IT, U.S. commission
    on Civil Rights, 1970
    “Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism
    involves having the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices
    through the major institutions of our society.”
    Delmo Della-Dora, New Detroit, Inc. 1970
    WHITE RACISM “Power + Prejudice = Racism.”
    “In the United States at present, only whites can be racists, since whites
    dominate and control the institutions that create and enforce American cultural
    norms and values . . . blacks and other Third World peoples do not have
    access to the power to enforce any prejudices they may have, so they cannot,
    by definition, be racists.”
    --from EDUCATION & RACISM, National Education Association. 1973
    “Racism and white racism mean the same thing, if we are referring to practices
    of major institutions and dominant societal patterns in the United States today .
    . . White people are in the majority in the country . . . Thus, government,
    business, industry, unions, churches, educational and other institutions are
    almost always dominated by white people. When you combine power with
    racial discrimination, the result is racism.”
    RACIST SOCIETY “Is one in which social policies, procedures, decisions, habits and acts do in
    fact subjugate a race of people and permit another race to maintain control
    over them . . . No society will distribute social benefits in a perfectly equitable
    way. But no society need use race as a criterion to determine who will be
    rewarded and who punished. Any nation which permits race to affect those
    who benefit from social policies is racist.”
    WHO IS A RACIST? “All white individuals in our society are racists. Even is a white is totally free
    from all conscious racial prejudices, he remains a racist, for he receives
    benefits distributed by a white racist society through its institutions. Our
    institutional and cultural processes are so arranged as to automatically benefit
    whites, just because they are white.
    “It is essential for whites for whites to recognized that they receive most of
    these racist benefits automatically, unconsciously, unintentionally.”
    --from EDUCATIONA & RACISM, National Education Association. 1973

  52. Part 1/2
    The one positive I see from all of this is that people are talking about this and are addressing the issue(s) rather than brushing them away as is sometimes the case.

    While people can get bogged down to detail such as 1) defining racism, and 2) assessing the validity of that bureaucratic and textbook/safe response from the hotel, it is very likely that 12 Apostle's won't suffer any hit to their finances nor their reputation take a knock.

    What's most important that I truly hope people will start to take note off or actually act on is the discrimination imposed on blacks in CPT. For a young black person you have to flex your qualifications for people to take you seriously.

    A few incidents to shed light:
    1) A car salesman once suggested I shouldn't look at the second hand car I was planning on buying because I couldn't afford it with no basis (no payslip seen yet, no question of my profession (which might I add is in the actuarial field), security of my job (which was permanent) - absolutely nothing). The irony is I know the maths behind how he calculates people's installments in my head as I did that in my second year of varsity. He made 0 effort to sell the car to me and didn't respond to my questions on the condition of the car. One can only assume he based this on the colour of my skin? I later went on to purchase a higher model of that car he sold. I thought of driving back to him to rub it in but I realized narrow-minded people can't always be helped to see the light.

    2) At another dealer incident where a friend and I walked in and waited for 20 minutes to get served. I work in the actuarial profession and he was a CA. When a salesman eventually served us we asked to get inside the Golf 7 (which we both could afford). He just stood there and also said nothing about the car's features. We asked a few questions which he responded to lazily. We asked for the price-list of the range which he printed, put on the car and left us inside the car and never returned. We could not even ask for a test drive.

    3) I've been to more shops where on entering I get followed by a security guard, aisle by aisle until I purchase whatever it is I came to purchase. I tend to walk out of those shops without buying.

    4) A non-black friend and I went into a grocery store carrying cooldrinks we had bought from a previous shop. Because we were carrying this I told him we should stop at the entrance and notify the security guard so that they don't think we bought them inside which we did. My friend goes to pay for his groceries but not for the cooldrink we went inside with. I didn't have anything to buy so I walked past the counter and was immediately stopped and taken to some backroom. I - and only I - was accused of stealing this cooldrink inside the store, drinking it and finishing it and walking out without buying it. I kindly told them that is not true and they can ask security but they refused to. They didn't want to produce video evidence showing me stealing it. I offered to go get slips showing I had bought it elsewhere but they accused me of thinking they're cartoon characters and that I'm trying to fool them, that they've already called the cops. They wouldn't let me friend in to explain or for me to talk any further (which I didn't try to). Eventually my friend dragged the security guard at the door to testify and it was clear I hadn't stolen anything. The icing on the cake was the guy who made all these accusations saw it fit to not apologize and just told me I can go. I demanded it and even called the manager down but the guy told lies and the manager wasn't sure who to believe. Why was it only me who was suspected and not my friend - has anything to do with race maybe? Why wasn't anything I wanted to say even open to being listened to?

  53. Part 2/2
    5) Recently a friend went to a dentist and on arrival the receptionist asked her "what are you doing here, can you afford this, are you on medical aid?"

    6) I don't know how many times I enquired about places to stay where the ad is still on but you are told the place isn't available. You get a friend with a white accent to call and he get a viewing.

    There are many other incidents and if you're white you probably don't see these. But early last year I'd reached my tipping point and decided to relocate to JHB. I hated GP but at least I knew I'd walk with dignity and a teller greets me the same way he greets the white consumer. Dealers actually take me seriously and offer me test drives before I even ask without even flexing what profession I'm from.

    WC is very narrow-minded in how it treats certain population groups and I experienced this first. When Hellen Zille called us refugees in our own country she defaulted to thinking like an oppressor from past times and chose words that completely irked people who moved to CPT for a better future.

    So the problem is broader than the 12 Apostle's Hotel. They probably won't suffer any knock in their earnings on this - in fact I'm quite surprised they even responded to this - but I hope this highlights even bigger problems that surround that province.

  54. Yes Sasby, you are unfortunately being racist towards me right now, in assuming that just because I am white I have a white privileged, you do not know me and do not care. You make an assumption based on my race. The only thing you know about me is that we both have access to the internet, which makes use equally privileged in my book. You are quick to call racism, when I have said nothing racist.

  55. Racism is the last resort of incompetence.