South Africa: Mitchells Plain Store Owner Given Two Weeks to Respond to Equality Court

12 November 2019

The owner of the store in Mitchells Plain where Liezel Haskin's son was denied access has two weeks to give his version of events to the Equality Court where he has been accused of discrimination.

Shop owner Salaudin Khan failed to appear before the Equality Court, sitting at the Mitchells Plain Magistrates Court, for the second time on Monday.

Instead, Khan instructed his store manager Moegamat Adams to accept the notice to appear in court on his behalf.

In April, Haskin went to a superette near her home in Woodlands, Mitchells Plain, to buy groceries. She was told she could no longer enter the store with her son's special-needs wheelchair (buggy).

Her son, Connor, aged five, has Down syndrome and developmental delays associated with West syndrome. This means that he needs around-the-clock care and uses a buggy.

Haskin said that she explained to the staff that she was a single mother and could not leave Connor without proper care. She was told to either "leave Connor in his buggy at the door or carry him while shopping in the store". Haskin is being represented by candidate lawyer Nkosinathi Thema and attorney Odette Geldenhuys from law firm Webber Wentzel. They will argue that the discrimination against Connor on the basis of his disability was unfair.

At court, Adams was called into the chambers of the chief magistrate on Monday and was asked why Khan could not attend proceedings himself. Adams told the magistrate that he did not know whether Khan was still in Cape Town as he may be returning home to Bangladesh.

The magistrate urged Adams to convey information to Khan and reaffirmed the importance and the seriousness of the case.

Outside, Adams told GroundUp that he had previously been at court, but was directed to the wrong courtroom. When asked about Khan's understanding of the case, Adams said, "Mr Khan is a foreigner from Bangladesh. I've been working for him for four years now and my wife has worked for him for nine years. The stuff I'm reading here [in court papers] is a lot of lies."

Adams said they were shocked to receive the summonses to appear in court because they were under the impression that the matter was resolved after Khan went to Haskin's house to apologise and gave Connor a chocolate.

He said Haskin was a regular customer. "We were shocked to get these letters to come to court. She wants R5,000. If she desperately needed help, we could have helped her, but don't go about it the dirty way like this. I can promise that Mr Khan won't give that money because she did this. If she did it the right way then we would've helped. We sponsor soccer clubs, soup kitchens and other stuff in the community," he said.

The case will return to court on 11 December.

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