White racism to blame for job losses, not the EFF – protesters after restaurant linked to Catzavelos closes

An EFF Johannesburg branch has hit back at claims that it was to blame for the job losses at the Braamfontein Smokehouse and Grill, which closed after EFF members invaded the restaurant last week.

Twenty-nine staff members were left without jobs after the restaurant closed shortly after the protest that allegedly included the intimidation of workers. 

Adam Catzavelos, who previously owned a minority stake in the restaurant, caused a massive uproar when a video of him using the k-word went viral last month. In the video, Catzavelos said while at an overseas holiday: "Not one k****r in sight, f**king heaven on earth… You cannot beat this!"

The EFF in Johannesburg's Ward 60 and the Wits EFF Student Command admit to being part of last week's demonstration, but have rejected assertions that the party is the cause of the job losses.

"As the branch, we engaged in a militant demonstration at Smokehouse to demand that Adam Catzavelos' family take full responsibility for his actions," EFF Johannesburg Ward 60 chairperson Cassius Mabunda said in a statement on Monday.

READ: Adam Catzavelos 'used k-word 4 months ago' after being attacked, brother says in radio interview

The EFF further stated that the restaurant's management had agreed to a meeting the following day but did not show up. Closing the restaurant was a "stunt", the party says.

"The stunt by Smokehouse is a clear example of how those who control our country's economy would rather sacrifice jobs than deal with white racism," Mabunda said.

According to the branch, the failure of the restaurant's management team to attend the meeting, instead opting for job losses, is a clear indication that Smokehouse refuses to deal with racism.

"The sacrifice of jobs is an act of arrogance, recklessness and a violent refusal to confront racism by Smokehouse. The attempt to shift the blame to the branch is embedded in the white racist culture that victims of racism must accept or tolerate racism in return for jobs," Mabunda said. 

The branch has further asked Smokehouse management to honour its initial agreement to engage the party on its demands, which "do not include job losses", amicably.