Ex-Spur Customer: It's Not A Boycott, We Just Chose To Eat Elsewhere

Solidarity turns the pressure on Spur while franchise owners lose business. It's all just a mess.
Roberto A Sanchez

Although middle-class South Africans can still afford to eat out at restaurants, they cannot afford to do it as often as they previously did.

This is according to Professor Jannie Rossouw, head of Wits University's School of Economic and Business Sciences on Tuesday.

Rossouw was speaking on the backdrop of Solidarity's call for its members to boycott Spur restaurants across South Africa after the chain restaurant giant banned Nico Viljoen from its outlets.

In March, Viljoen and Lebohang Mabuya had a much-publicised altercation at the Texamo Spur at The Glen Mall south of Johannesburg. Viljoen accused Mabuya's child of bullying his child in the children's play area.

Spur has since apologised "to any person or community who has taken exception to our actions and will ensure a fair hearing is conducted prior to judgements being made in future", and has backtracked onthe panel it set up to evaluate the negative reactions to the restaurant following the incident.

Rossouw told HuffPostSA that given the current status of the South African economy, it's not easy to judge whether or not the boycott worked.

"I think that depends on whether Solidarity's members follow the union's advice and to what extent they believe the call is in their best interest. Otherwise, it is difficult for one to gauge if it is the boycott working or rather the tough economic times," he told HuffPost SA.

Also read:

A Spur franchise owner in the East of Johannesburg said his business lost more than 24 percent of its revenue since the incident.

The owner, who did not want to be named, told HuffPostSA that his restaurant suffered a blow and it is nowhere near recovering.

He attributed the decline in numbers to the boycott, adding that the tough economic times could have contributed.

"The numbers can speak for themselves. We were badly affected. Even right now, we are struggling to recover because people are simply not coming. As much as this could simply be caused by the downturn in economic growth, people started staying away when the incident happened, which tells me a huge chunk of our customers went away in protest of Nico's banning," he said.

Echoing the sentiment was franchise owner Piet Kruger, who says he lost between 15 to 20 percent of his customers in the first four weeks of the incident.

Greenstone resident Derik Van Wyk said he and his family no longer visit Spur since the incident.

He said he does not interpret the stay-away as a boycott, but rather a choice by people to eat elsewhere.

"My family also stopped eating at Spur, purely because their perceived handling of the case was biased and they did not conduct the necessary consultation with the affected parties. We do not support the actions of either the man or the lady in the video that led to the boycott," Van Wyk told HuffPostSA.