Camps Bay café explains pics that caused outrage


Cape Town – “Whites only” pictures of Camps Bay beach, which are on display at Mantra Café in the upper-class suburb, are family heirlooms, the owners clarified on Monday afternoon.

The pictures, displayed on walls and coasters of the sea-front café, sparked social media outrage last week when users pointed out they were most likely taken at a time when the beach was reserved for white people only.

Defending their decision to display the photographs, owner Melissa Hoogstraten’s sister Leigh Tobin said the “personal images” were of their mother and father when they were in their 20s.

Tobin said their father was born in Central Drive in Camps Bay in the 1940s. She had also grown up in the suburb, which led to her opening the café in December 2016.

“Perhaps those who expressed concern didn’t understand the family context,” Tobin said.

“If they did, hopefully, they would see that it is simply Melissa celebrating her family and upbringing in her own restaurant in Camps Bay.”

Rachel Irvine, CEO of Irvine Partners, described Mantra Café as “tone deaf” for displaying the pictures when she tweeted about them.

“My people never fail to disappoint.”

Writer Haji Mohamed Dawjee added her voice, calling on Mantra café to “come right”.

In a column published on EWN, Dawjee wrote that “white-nostalgia deserves zero sentimentality” in this current day.

“The photos feature the privileged few of our country in the old days of yore sunning their superior epidermises on the beach. You know, the beaches that only whites could go to before people of colour made everything k*k,” Dawjee said.

“Please explain to me how the intentions of stepping on an entire nation’s feelings by putting up pictures that basically say ‘slegs blankes’ is well-intentioned and innocent? It isn’t.”

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