Grocery Chain Store SPAR Bans Phoenix After Refusing To Be Subjected To Inhuman Treatment By One Of Their Staff.
22years down the line this country is battling with issues of racism and we (Black People) are constantly accused of blaming everything on apartheid, when the country itself is confronted with scourge of racism. 6 out of 7 black people living in South Africa experience racism and racial injustice daily. How can we forget everything that happened in the past if the treatment we receive is still about color? Whites are still wealthier than our black brothers and sisters, they live in areas most black people cannot easily access, that giving them a sense of superiority and power. There is no sign in South Africa that blacks and whites are becoming one nation. All we have are slogans about our oneness, and our unity.
The morning of the ban, traffic was slow and it was a little bit warmer in this part of Johannesburg for winter, I turned into Joe Slovo off-ramp passed Houghton and suddenly I found myself in Hillbrow. I remember when I was a kid how this place looked (very clean). Those days the laws were different. Segregation was very rigid and the Boers were aggressive at making sure that everything is done the apartheid policy way here. The Boers suppressed anything they did not like. . . They had too many suppression acts back then.
There are those who say Hillbrow is one of the poorest neighborhoods Johannesburg has to offer , this part of town is also viewed as a crime hotspot. Well if you want to know more about Hillbrow ask me. I was at Wits Technikon few years after our first national elections. My father James Moleya owned two salons and massage parlour here in the late 80s and early 90s all our salons nationwide were named “Zabor Lapaz” as in the Bolivian city La Paz, I presume. I’m still not sure how Dad came up with that name.
I passed JG Strydom tower also known as The Hillbrow tower, somehow I was reminded of the “Divide and Rule” policy. It was here where I first saw the “Whites Only” sign when I was a small boy taking a walk with my cousin looking for a playground. I cannot remember the year but let us say it was back in the days. That time in history Hillbrow was a white only designated area. At that early age i was already aware of my 6th sense and the ability to see in the future. Let me not claim any prophesy – 🙂 Nowadays majority of residents are from outside the country and there is a high level of unemployment and poverty, despite that I would still recommend this area to any entrepreneur in the property or retail business. Hillbrow has Pep Cell, Nandos, Rage store, Jet store, Edgars Active, Capitec Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank you name it, liquor business is also doing well in this area. The service in banks and shops is usually professional.
I parked my car opposite FNB ATM machine, made sure I take with me my Armani wallet and two Android cell phones, yes I said Armani! I walked to Standard Bank for withdrawal , after withdrawing cash from the standard bank machine I walked to Spar Supermarket to buy cigarette (Camel Activate) which they did not have.
Relieved that I will be able to put the bad habit on hold for an hour or so, I proceeded to the store exit where I was stopped by security officer not in uniform and with no identification, and a bad attitude. It seems SPAR is not aware of the importance of a security guards to wear uniform while on duty.
I jumped back and refused to be searched, (A normal reaction for a normal human being when confronted with disrespect). Altercation arose with this gentleman at the door, as he insisted on searching me without my permission. First foremost I should state that, I know how to treat people so I know how I should be treated in a business premise. If you are going to search anyone as a security officer, do it with dignity and do not try to belittle the customer in the process. Please wear some uniform.
For God sake, most people visit the store with the intention to buy not to steal. These searches are inspired by the notion that the consumer has pinched something otherwise I don’t see any reason why they should take place. Maybe Spar has a better explanation.
Feeling that my right to self-worth (dignity) has been invaded I requested to see the manager straightaway who was not very far from the exit. There were two “managers” one black and the other white. Maybe you still don’t get my story, right? – My hullabaloo. Here it is, I approach the two managers and explained to them that I don’t want to be searched at the door – if they would like to search me (since they suspect that I might have stolen something), the search should be done at the back with dignity not on the floor.
Abruptly the attitude of these two managers became pugnacious. The white guy said if I don’t want to be searched at the door they should search me at the back of the shop and I must never come back to the store ever again. In his words he said “If you don’t want to be searched at the door let them search you at the back and then you are banned from my store” Nice, I grew up in the apartheid era and I take that too personal especially coming from a white gentleman with an Afrikaans-English accent exercising authority. Well I guess that is how Spar Supermarket treats customers. Yeah! This is not a race card , it is just politically incorrect for this white Boer to announce a ban. well I did not start racism and I’m very sure that if the color of my skin was different the treatment would have been different too. One night in the summer of 2015 I had enough time to observe how they conducted these searches; to my surprise I discovered their search to be discriminatory but I’m not going to dwell into that. We don’t have to turn this into a colour thing right? it’s just racist full-stop. One cannot draw a conclusion that all “a group of people” have aggressive mentality just because of few exceptions within that particular group. Fact is that some whites are racist.
IT NEVER RAINS, BUT IT POURS.
I then called the Spar customer care line to lay a complaint about Highpoint Spar. The phone was answered by Glenda, a very professional woman with a beautiful voice. She listened attentively without interruption and explained why they might be conducting these searches at Spar Highpoint. Undoubtedly, stores in this area with high level of unemployment must be suffering major losses through shoplifting and other forms of theft and they have all the right to decrease their loss. It is disappointing to be told by a manager that “The SAPS can search you anytime so we can also search you , it’s our property”. Spar Highpoint does not have legible notice displayed prominently at the entrance to warn customers that they will be subjected to a search.
Glenda took my cell phone number and explained that they usually attend to complaints by visiting the stores in person (Meaning they do not call the store or email it). One cannot complain about that. BUT , did you sense the “BUT”? But then she added , that she gets searched at “Woollies” in KZN all the time but she never asked why she is being searched. Well I guess this lady with a beautiful voice couldn’t just understand . We grew up listening to Mzwakhe Mbui’ Sis Bayasinyanyisa track (Bayasinyanyisa can loosely be translated as “They annoy us”). To understand why we question the searches worse when they are done without dignity, you should first understand why we as a people could relate to this particular song by Mzwakhe Mbuli.
Part of my job is to contact credit providers on behalf of my clients; I called Woolworths after talking to Glenda to get clarity on how they conduct searches. According to WOOLWORTHS body searches are conducted under exceptional circumstances when threatened by violence and if they have reason to believe that a suspect may be concealing a dangerous weapon, in order to protect customers, employees and the individual concerned. Such searches are done off the floor, meaning in private.
I can go on and on and probably argue the criminal procedure act and the constitution; I choose not to do that. From today I will stay away from that Spar Super Market with rotten food and work on making myself a better person. Though i still can not resist Sunninghill and Bez Valley Spar. . . These two are very clean and professional. Not Cockroach filled , dirty, food-rotting Highpoint Spar.
I received a call from their head office, I think – Fontana Spar Head Office or something… Apparently I’m not banned and I cannot be banned for refusing to be searched according to whoever I spoke to. It’s always about color, only John Robbie is blind to this reality. I wonder where this beautiful soul lives. Moeletsi Mbeki recently said something about South Africa experiencing low-intercity hidden civil war – what he meant was, If South Africa or South Africans are not careful enough we might soon find ourselves “back in the future” reading Collen Chauke and Bushy Engelbrecht in one paragraph of an article written by Mr Phalene Motale about the late Comrade Mokaba. 🙂