Joburg restaurant owner in homophobia furore


Donovan Perrins (right) and his partner Mark

A gay couple claim that a Johannesburg restaurant owner, previously accused of making racist comments to clients, used an anti-gay slur against them.

Donovan Perrins and his partner Mark decided to entertain the latter’s work colleagues at the Spetada restaurant in Rosebank on Friday 5 June.

They took advantage of a special on cocktails but were surprised at the end of the evening by the unexpectedly high bill, which, Perrins says, was paid in full.

They did, nevertheless, ask the manager about the discrepancy. He explained that they had ordered cocktails that were not on offer and were thus charged the normal fee.

Not satisfied that this was clear to customers, Perrins called for the owner, Paul Da Silva, who reiterated the manager’s explanation that only certain cocktails were on special; allegedly telling them: “It’s fucking clear as day. Please leave.”

Perrins told Mambaonline that as they left, he claims to have heard Da Silva mumble something. One of his partner’s work colleagues turned to him and said that the restaurateur had allegedly just called them “fucking faggots.”

Perrins returned to the eatery where he says he repeatedly tried to confront Da Silva, who he claims hid in the kitchen, refused to respond, and left the manager to deal with the issue.

“The manager was so apologetic. He looked terrified. He said he knows its a crime to say that and he’s so sorry,” claims Perrins.

“I told them that we were going to lay a charge, but he [Da Silva] said, ‘that’s fine sweetie, do what you have to.'” Security was called and the couple were escorted out the restaurant.

“He was given so many opportunities to apologise, but he refused to,” said Perrins. “It left such a bitter taste in my mouth. I haven’t been called a fag since high school. How can people treat us with such bigotry?

“The more I dwell on it, the angrier I get. It’s not acceptable. It was enough to make me sick,” he said.

Da Silva, however, has a different view of what took place. He told Mambaonline that the men were “out of their minds on cocktails. They were intoxicated. They came and made such a scene.”

He further denies having made the homophobic comment and alleged that the couple trumped up the accusation because of the dispute over the bill.

“They decided to cause a drama because they didn’t want to pay for their drinks. None of my staff said that. They misinterpreted and they want to make trouble. They are just being vindictive. They give gay people a bad name,” said Da Silva.

He went on to add: “I’ve got plenty gay people in my shop. We have never had any problem with gay people. Pink money is good for us. All money is good for us. We are business people for God’s sake.”

In January, Da Silva was accused of hurling racist insults at two black women who confronted him, also over a billing issue.

The women claimed they’d found a small cockroach in their food and that the restaurant refused to remove the cost of the item from their bill.

According to the women, when they confronted Da Silva in his kitchen he said: “Get the fuck out of my kitchen. What all you black girls need is a good shagging … All you black girls need a fuck.”

Perrins says his partner’s work colleague is prepared to attest to Da Silva’s alleged homophobic slur and he has already laid a charge at the Rosebank Police Station. He will do the same with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and is also considering approaching the Equality Court.

If Perrins goes ahead, Da Silva could be facing two complaints at the SAHRC. The women who accused him of racism also filed a complaint with the commission.

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