"ATTRACTIVE INDIAN CASHIERS WANTED".
However, he was adamant that his
posters were not offensive. "How can I be racist
when I have posters for all the race groups? It's
Mandela's rainbow nation. It's my business. I just
don't advertise for coloureds because they don't
like to work for Indians. They prefer working as
cashiers in Pick 'n Pay and Checkers."
Asked about his "No Fatties"
policy he said: "I love fatties. They're juicy
and meaty and beautiful but the fatties that come
here are undesirable. I will only employ a woman
up to a size 42. After that they get too heavy to
run around and help customers."
Patel said he had been in the clothing
business for 49 years and was only successful because
of the way he ran his enterprise. After the posters
were put up many "fatties" came into his
stores and joked that they needed a job but would
have to lose weight first.
"My business is run like the
military. I'm a hard aggressive man. I'm a no nonsense
man. I don't care what the human rights commission
or anyone else says about my business because they
are not going to pay my rent. Why don't they worry
about the people who are raped, murdered and robbed?
They mustn't worry about someone who doesn't want
to employ fatties."
He said he had no idea what the
outcry was all about because many other business
owners complained about the laws but did nothing
about it. "I don't moan, I take action. I wear
underpants, other businessmen wear panties."
Patel said his clients were mainly
professional, black and well off. He said client
service was important and three years ago he sacked
a man for bad breath.
"This man worked for me for
three days and the clients kept on complaining about
his breath. So I told the manager to tell this fellow
that he must brush his teeth and suck some mints.
I even gave him R10 for spearmints. But if a man
can't brush his teeth and be presentable to work
in Apples he can't work in Apples. So, after his
third day on the job I sacked him because I could
not afford to lose customers."
Patel said he was not new to controversy
because four years ago a consumer journalist attacked
him for a "no browsing policy" in his
shops - and the publicity tripled his business.
"Tony Patel is 25 years ahead
of any other businessman in town. My policy is that
if you are not going to buy don't come into my shop
and jumble the clothes on the shelves. In fact I
am the first shop in the world to do this and now
an American store is doing the same."
Customers who were "just looking"
were asked to leave.
Patel said since the outcry over
his posters he has had phone calls from people commending
his for his courage in asking for what he wanted.
"The publicity was worth a
million rand. Today I am more famous than Mandela."
The SA Human Rights Commission's
Karthy Govender said everyone in South Africa was
bound by the laws. He said it was unacceptable to
discriminate against people in terms of race or
physical appearance and that unsuccessful job candidates
could take Patel to the Commission for Conciliation,
Mediation and Arbitration.
He said it appeared as if Patel
thought he was "above the law." Govender
described Patel's posters as "crass" and
said employers could only specify race to comply
with the Employment Equity Act. - Sapa