Not on my watch

BON Blog - Not on my watch

I’m deeply disappointed by an awful incident at one of our hotels last week. 

We had a regular guest staying with us who allowed himself to get so enraged over the lack of Bulgarian yoghurt at the buffet that he (uncontrollably or deliberately, not sure which) went on a tangent of racial abuse towards our staff. This despicable incident of racial and verbal abuse occurred in the restaurant at breakfast time, where several of our staff were allegedly repeatedly verbally insulted and abused by the use of the “K-word” by this in-house South African guest. I use the word “alleged” with reluctance, but I have to respect the fact that the legal process must take its course.

Now, I have previously heard whispers of this sort of thing happening in our hotels, and we are all aware of occasions of this horrific conduct by such culprits in our society. The result is that we are sometimes guilty of putting this type of behaviour down to our country’s ‘state of affairs’ as a reflection of the racial temperature in our country. However, nothing can prepare you for the shock and horror of such disgusting ill-treatment, and the lingering effect for those on the receiving end.

Verbal abuse and racial attacks by our in-house racist, spewing forth the k-word like bullets from an automatic machine gun, name-calling, aggression with the intent to harm – all in full view of the Kenyan swimming team and other esteemed guests – left our team bewildered at first, then furious. 

We reported the incident to the police, removed the person from our property and encouraged the victims to lay a charge. Fortunately the police responded quickly, took statements and assured us that the culprit will be dealt with. I addressed our staff and assured them that we stand behind, in front and beside them. Moreover, we have alerted his employer and were later assured that relevant steps have been taken.

But we simply cannot let it rest.

We, as a company, will NEVER accept this kind of abuse in our establishments. I will use this incident as a corporate culture yardstick. Our staff must know that they will always be protected by us when such a situation occurs, that we will never ‘let it slide’. We will support our staff unequivocally and make absolutely certain that perpetrators are dealt with to the full measure of the law, exposed for their behaviour. In fact, I was so enraged that I wanted to release the details of the incident to the media.

Striving to turn a negative into a positive, the only lesson I can take from this is that perhaps it boils down to us. As individuals, we should not only be taking a stand when something like this happens, but we also need to search deep within ourselves to be sure that we are not perpetrators ourselves, even if only in our minds and deep down in our thoughts. 

Cleanse the mind; remove all prejudice.

 

Author

Chief Executive Officer

Having grown up in the corridors and reception areas of Cape Town hotels, Guy Stehlik is no stranger to the hospitality industry.

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