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Monday Jul 09, 2012

Noisy restaurant rumpus continues in Greyville

Readers of the Tribune will remember a fracas several years ago at the popular Bean Bag Bohemia restaurant in Greyville, during which an irate neighbour allegedly fired a loaded gun in the direction of a party of cross-dressing revellers celebrating a stag night.

Chef Handre Botha stands outside restaurant, formerly Bean Bag Bohemia.

The case was in and out of court for years, with the complainant stating that he had been driven beyond human endurance by noise from BBB.

Daniel Coetzee, the man at the centre of the drama, contacted City Watch this week to say that his travails continue. He claimed that his health had been irreparably damaged by stress, and believes "the municipality is turning a blind eye, and they should produce proof of the terms of this so-called restaurant's operating licence, because it is not a dining venue, but a thinly-disguised shebeen".

When BBB closed down last year, said Coetzee, "I had the first uninterrupted sleep I have enjoyed in the past 16 years". His euphoria was short-lived, as, a restaurant with a similar clientele to that of BBB, opened in its place.

"I am living on antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills," he told the Sunday Tribune. "After enduring excessively loud music until the early hours of the morning for almost 10 years, I began contacting a series of individuals to beg them to enforce the by-laws that exist in this area. I have hundreds of hours of sound and video footage of the noise and unruly behaviour of patrons, but the municipality continues to give the restaurant owners carte blanche to do as they please. They have a licence to operate until 2am, but the restaurant next door, Vintage, only has one until 10pm. Why the discrepancy?

"I have been told by the head of enforcement, Abdul Domingo, that they have a backlog to deal with in terms of restaurant complaints, but why should the rights of a restaurant owner supersede those of residents? This was a residential area long before the restaurants opened."

Coetzee conceded he frequently took videos of patrons at the restaurant, "particularly when they are drinking outside, or urinating or throwing up on my driveway", but said he had curtailed his activities because of abuse.

Guy Woods, former owner of BBB, confirmed there had been many run-ins with Coetzee, but said he had done everything possible to placate him over the years, and even offered to soundproof his neighbour's windows, without success.

Theuns Smuts, owner of, said he had invested a considerable amount in rejuvenating the premises, and because he was aware of the longstanding feud, had made every attempt to defuse the situation. "I tried to set up an open dialogue beforehand, through the local DA ward councillor. Mr Coetzee rebuffed me repeatedly. Apart from anything else, the fact that there are no longer vagrants squatting in an empty building has probably increased Coetzee's property value. I also consulted a sound engineer during planning, and made sure there were no speakers in the front of the restaurant or on the balcony, to keep noise to a minimum, but nothing appeases him. My staff and patrons are regularly insulted and sworn at by the complainant, and he has rigged a boom-box speaker to his alarm, and sets it off at a terrific volume during the night. I have a business to run and I can't have him belittling people on the basis of their race or sexuality, as he often does."

The Tribune is awaiting a response from the property enforcement division of the eThekwini municipality.

Sunday Tribune

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