'Jealousy' forces So Chila to shut down- patrons

The owners of So Chila Pub and Restaurant, Vusi and Phiwe Zwane, said the decision to close down came after the council had ruled in favour of the residents.

Vusi said some of the complaints were that the place was noisy, used a lot of “parking space” and attracted “criminal activities”.

“We were hauled to the (council’s) town planning tribunal in 2009 and the matter dragged on until May this year when it was decided that this place must close down,” he said.

However, Vusi said his neighbours’ judgments were prompted by “jealousy”.

“After they complained, we hired a private town planner and a sound expert to address their complaints, but they still insisted that this place be shut down.”

He said the “crime” argument was baseless. “There has never been any criminal activity here as a result of our business.” Vusi said operating without a licence – although he had applied for it four years ago – did not sit well with the council.

So Chila is a home of leisure to many, including leading socialites and top politicians, wishing to experience the “kasi” vibe.

Phiwe said she was now tasked with the duty of telling her 30 employees that they would be without jobs next year.

Independent town planner Reg Pheiffer, who represented the couple in the tribunal, said he had expected the judgment.

He said: “We argued that all complaints lodged by the neighbours were governable. We even applied for a piece of unused land nearby where cars could be parked, but our pleas were thrown out.”

Neighbour Martina Khoza welcomed the news of the shutdown of the place.

“The couple had decided to open the spot without consulting us. We have all bought these properties and if we allow the pub to continue the property values will drop,” Khoza said, adding that “when people are drunk they get into our homes and trespass”.

Another neighbour, Doreen Mtshali, said: “People urinate everywhere and the noise at 3am emanating from the youngsters’ cars is unbearable.

“We don’t mind them operating their business, but it should not interfere with us, at the moment it is,” she said.

Disappointed regular Mbavhi Mavhina said: “This is why black businesses will never succeed. There could have been alternatives such as a park-and-ride when it comes to the parking space.”

He said noise was also something that could be controlled.

Another regular, Ritshidze Nemulodi, said: “There is no other replacement for this place. We come here to eat and drink, especially when there is a big soccer match.”

Nemulodi said if parking was an issue, “we wouldn’t mind using taxis”.

The couple will close doors after December 25.

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