At the Mugg & Bean in Somerset West’s Waterstone Village mall, customers only want to be served by white managers.
This is reportedly the reason given to Andile Bozo by his employer after he was dismissed. Boza had worked for Famous Brands for 11 years and spent four and a half at the Mugg & Bean branch, according to Cape Times.
Bozo has now lodged a case of unfair dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
According to the employee, who started out washing cars and worked his way up to the manager position, a new owner who took over the franchise in December embarked on a process of replacing as many black employees as possible with white ones.
“The first thing he wanted to know was why the store had no white waitresses and waiters, and I told him they had quit. He then employed two girls, but after three months they also left”, Bozo said.
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“He didn’t give up; he deployed another two. Among the two was his son. He told me he didn’t need me anymore as he had the people he wanted”, he continued.
“On July 17, I received a letter saying I was being retrenched and must not come back to work, and I knew the word ‘retrenched’ meant fired. On the 20th, I was called to discuss the offer and I wanted to counter-offer and wanted more.
“That is when he defended himself and said it was the customers who wanted a white manager, and not him,” he said.
Mugg & Bean operations executive Jeanne Geldenhuys says the coffee shop chain has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to racism, and that due to a court hearing next month he could not say more.
While Bozo’s ex-boss claimed that he was let go due to the refusal of customers to be served by black manager, this isn’t true of all their customers.
“My husband is a regular at the Mugg & Bean Waterstone Village. Over the past three years that we have lived here he has got to know the former manager, Bozo, reasonably well. We both think he is a nice guy and a very competent manager.
“We thus were shocked to hear that the new owners were retrenching him, especially since they had recently appointed two white members of staff and were not applying the last-in, first-out principle. We really believe this is unacceptable behaviour in this day and age,” one customer said.