Gay nightclubs in Cape Town have claimed that police homophobia is behind a number of allegedly abusive raids on their venues.
The owners of Bronx and Navigaytion clubs, which are housed in the same building in Somerset Road, Green Point, say that they are the victims of a “police onslaught on gay venues.”
On a Facebook group titled “Homophobia amongst our police force“, the club owners claim that on August 24 seven police raided the venues with a search warrant and threatened to beat the DJ unless he switched off the music.
They further allege that the officers hit patrons and sprayed pepper spray in customers faces with no provocation.
“To my knowledge six customers were pepper sprayed and hit. They pushed customers down the stairs. They even pushed ladies making them fall on to the floor,” said a message on the group page.
The clubs specifically name Superintendent Coetzee and Captain Nathan, who they say are homophobic, as being behind the alleged harassment:
“Superintendent Coetzee is on a mission to close down one of Cape Town’s most important gay icons Bronx – Navigaytion. How sad that would be for our tourist industry – Cape Town being the 4th best gay destination in the world.”
It’s claimed that Coetzee regularly forces the clubs to close at 4am on the basis that their liquor license ends at this time. The owners of the two clubs however insist that they do stop selling alcohol at 4am and that they are legally allowed to continue to operate as long as alcohol is not sold.
“At 4am the venue is packed and everyone is there to have a good time. We don’t cause trouble, we just want have a patsy. What right does he have to tell us we have to go to bed at 4am? Is it because we are an easy target, why is it that certain straight clubs are allowed to stay open until 8- 9am.”
The owners have called on patrons who were allegedly harassed or assaulted by police at their venues to contact Dawid (email@example.com), Ari (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bruno (email@example.com).