Indian restaurant turns away family over guide dog

Image for representational purpose.

#DURBAN: Mali’s Indian Restaurant is one of Durban’s popular restaurants frequented by locals and tourists for their fine dining cuisine.

The Indian eatery has received glowing reviews from patrons for their service & food BUT the restaurant has come under fire for allegedly throwing out patrons over a guide-dog on Fathers Day this past weekend.

Devin Chetty and his family intended on dining at Mali’s Indian Restaurant for Father’s Day but this turned out to be impossible after they were turned away over their guide dog. Chetty shared his unfortunate experience on social media that has gone viral.

Chetty posted the following statement on social media site, Facebook

Source: Devin Chetty Facebook

Restaurant hits back on social media post

The manager of Mali’s Indian Restaurant also commented on Devin Chetty’s post soon after it was shared on social media in defense of their actions to throw the family out.

In our restaurant hygiene is very important. We will never allow it now and we will never allow it in the future.

Mali’s Indian Restaurant

The restaurant owner alleges that Chetty was rude in his conduct and had threatened their staff using vulgarities. The post by the restaurant manager on Facebook also stated that they will never allow patrons with pets in their venue claiming it to be their right of admission policy.

Manager of Mali’s Indian Restaurant comment on Devin Chetty’s post

Hi Devin , Today is Father’s Day we were fully booked. But other than that just to be clear. Rules are rules!! Firstly You were very rude and shouting and disturbing other customers. You were threatening us.

As a establishment we have a right to turn you down based on your terrible behavior . Secondly – If one hair from that dog went into others food then what?

If the dog pooped Inside the restaurant where people are eating? Then what? In our restaurant hygiene is very important. We will never allow it now and we will never allow it in the future. I love dogs and I have 3 of them but at home is different and restaurant is different. Right to admission!! Please understand the meaning of this.

We normally are very helpful and accommodating but your behavior was just unacceptable and disruptive . Thanks

Source: Devin Chetty Facebook

The screenshot of the post by the restaurant manager

Mali’s Indian Restaurant responds to the incident

In an email to Indian Spice, the owner of Mali’s Indian Restaurant alleges that they were accommodating to the family and offered to segregate the dog from them in another area while they dined.

The owner stated that the manager was within his rights to comment on the social media post and believes that Devin Chetty and his family are vengeful.

Their act of posting their experience on social media is seen by Mali’s as an attempt to defame their eatery.

The owner stated that he intends to consult his legal counsel on the matter and will not discipline the manager for his outburst on social media.

What are the legal standpoint on guide dogs in South Africa?

SA Guide Dogs Association of South Africa spokesperson Pieter van Niekerk in his response to Indian Spice stated that this like many others is not an isolated event. It is a common issue that most guide dog owner’s experience at public spaces.

Individuals with guide dogs have legal routes to expedite in cases like Mali’s Indian Restaurant.

On 17 October 2018, South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind (GDA) approached the Equality Court in the Western Cape for an order declaring the denial of access to a Guide Dog Owner, Ms Bester and her Guide Dog, Reo, to the offices of the Department of Home Affairs in Mossel Bay, to be unfair discrimination.

On 29 March 2019 Justice Saldanha handed down a landmark judgment, the first in South Africa dealing with the denial of access of a working guide dog. The Equality Court held that complainant Amanda Bester’s choice to have a guide dog assist her in her everyday living as a visually impaired person and to assist with her disability “is a choice worthy of protection and that cannot be removed by another person except for a justifiable cause”. 

Justice Saldanha commented that the Department failed to appreciate not only the loss of independence Amanda suffered as a result of the denial of having Reo accompany her, but also failed to appreciate the impact the denial of access and their conduct had on Amanda and the embarrassment and humiliation suffered by her. 

The denial of access to Amanda and Reo was held to constitute unfair discrimination on the grounds of Amanda’s disability. 

South African law states

South African law stipulates Section 9 of the Constitution prevented discrimination on the basis of disabilities, and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act gave effect to this section.

Violations include failing to remove obstacles that unfairly restrict disabled people, failing to take reasonable steps to accommodate their needs, or depriving them of goods or services because they are disabled.

In terms of hygiene purposes, the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act prohibits animals from areas where food was prepared or handled.

But the exception is for a guide dog with a blind person. The association believes that by extension, this also applies to registered service dogs for people who have certain other conditions. People who have a guide or service dog, carry a card to say their dog is trained which is used to defend the right to access for individuals.

ALSO READ: Mali’s Indian Restaurant receives threats from public read their letter to the editor here

The reality of restricting a person with disability and their guide dog has far reaching implications on their quality of life.

Restricting access to guide dog handlers has a very real impact on those individuals and their canine friends.

By denying individuals access to public spaces can cause people to change their daily routine, choosing to avoid certain public areas or modes of transport, withdrawing from going about their day to day when the guide dog is meant to maximise their independence and mobility.


About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for Indianspice.co.za. It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

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