In a recent article posted by GroundUP, Irvine Goto, who is gay and works at a restaurant chain in the Cape Quarter says he has to constantly deal with the homophobia of his colleagues.
Employee of coffee chain Bootlegger, and despite the fact that the Cape Quarter used to be the heart of the city’s gay district, Goto says that he has to put up with insults at work.
Goto is a 28-year-old Zimbabwean that came to South Africa in 2015, and he mostly works with other Zimbabwean colleagues. However, he says that they call him a derogatory term in Shona, “ngochani”, which means man who sleeps with men.
“I have thought of resigning but then I told myself to persevere until I get another job. Each day I wake up with the zeal to go to work, but the mood and motivation disappears once I get to work because of the treatment I get from other employees,” said Goto.
Goto is humiliated when the waiters that come to check on their orders ask for “ngochani” instead of addressing him by his name. Some have even gone as far as to not be in the same room as him or eat food that he has prepared either.
“I thought it was just a phase and it would pass, but this year the bullying has become worse,” said Goto, who started work in late 2017.
He has said that he reported the homophobia and ill treatment to management last year, but nothing has been done.
“Management told the employees who were calling me names that if they didn’t stop they would be arrested or the company would terminate their contracts.
There is new management, probably that’s why Goto has become vulnerable,” said Ishmael, a former employee and friend of Goto’s that warned
him of the homophobic environment when he got the job.
Goto has since turned to PASSOP, an NGO focused on the rights of immigrants in South Africa.
Jethro Jenneker the general manager of the restaurant said he is new and was not aware of Goto’s situation until last week when he got a call from PASSOP. He has advised Goto to send details of his complaints to the company’s human resources department.
“What has been happening is unacceptable. I have put some action in place and I am rectifying the situation as soon as possible,” he said.