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July 14, 2022

With a cloud of intimidation hanging over their heads, a small group of disgruntled former waiters and activists protested against sexual harassment in front of once-cherished Cape Town restaurant Societi Bistro.

The restaurant, which wined and dined Hollywood stars such as Kate Moss and Hugh Jackman, has been embroiled in a sex scandal when a group of men claimed to have been sexually harassed, groomed, manipulated or assaulted by male patrons and its owner Peter Weetman, Weekend Argus exclusively reported.

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Others have described the working environment as “toxic”, with some claiming that unwanted escorts were organised for them by Weetman.

The protest started in Queen Victoria Street on Tuesday afternoon. The group of roughly 15 people, which included lobby group The Great People of South Africa, chanted struggle songs as the protesters marched to the popular eatery in Orange Street.

In a strong-worded letter which listed seven demands, the group, which held placards up with the words “Sex is not a KPI”, “Harasshole” and “Boycott Societi”, demanded that Weetman publicly admit to the allegations.

| protest outside city restaurant mired in sex scandal | 2
Activists and former employees gathered outside Societi Bistro to call for the establishment of policies against sexual harassment, among other demands. Pictures: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Weetman has since stepped down, citing ill health.

“I suffer from RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and have had a severe flare-up in most of my joints, including my hands and jaw,” he previously told Weekend Argus.

The protesters also demanded counselling.

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In the memorandum, seen by Weekend Argus, the protesters demanded that Weetman, along with his patrons named in the previous article need to acknowledge, admit and apologise publicly for their alleged acts of sexual violence.

They also demanded that the perpetrators commit themselves to weekly counselling sessions for the next 6 months.

Some of the other demands included that an external independent human resources company must be contracted to Societi Bistro to implement and publicly publish a new employment guideline along with a sexual harassment policy.

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The group also called for Weetman to remain off the premises after stepping down.

Celebrity chef and Come Dine with Me star Aubrey Ngcungama was accused by a waiter of harassment.

Ngcungama has since apologised.

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“I definitely did some stuff my mother would not approve of. I (had drunk) a lot (of alcohol) and I apologise.”

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