Entertainment

Popular Waterfront club closes due to Covid-19

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – The popular Shimmy Beach Club is closed and its future remains uncertain.

The owners have blamed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business’s ability to continue to trade.

Director Anton Louw said the club would remain closed for the “foreseeable future” and gave no indication of when or whether it would ever open again.

Shimmy’s Beach Club opened its doors in December 2012 at the V&A Waterfront and was described by its owners as a place where “lively Ibiza met laid-back Cape Town”, offering sophistication, premium entertainment and a child-friendly zone.

The club’s owners are listed as business tycoon Walter Hennig, and celebrity businessman Nicky van der Walt was also associated with the club.

It also boasted a 13-metre bar, a whisky room, the Prive lounge for gatherings of the elite, a restaurant and pool bar with ocean-facing views.

Award-winning musicians such as DJ Black Coffee entertained patrons at the events hosted by the club.

All that is left now is an empty shell. The place is desolate, no plush chairs, tables and luxurious offerings.

The closing has left employees without work and unable to earn a living.

This week, some spoke of being “left in the lurch” and were embroiled in a fight with the employer over the TERS relief fund payments which they still had not received for the August/September period.

“Most of the employees were breadwinners, women and single parents. They have to pay bonds and rent. They do not have savings or any other source of income,” said one of the affected workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of a backlash.

In a letter dated 26 September 2020, Louw said that Shimmy would not be in a position to re-open in the “foreseeable future, at least not within the next 12 to 15 months”.

Louw said the economic success of the business was dependent on trading with high numbers of patrons and approximately 70% of its annual income was generated during the Summer Calling campaign.

“As a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were not able to negotiate and conclude any sponsorships this year. Subsequently, Shimmy is not in a position to host a 2020/21 Summer Calling campaign. The restaurant trade is not economically viable to sustain Shimmy,” Louw told the workers.

Workers said they were in limbo and confused as a result of the “indefinite” lay-off period.

“We have been told that Shimmy has not generated any income over the lockdown period and was therefore not in a position to proceed with retrenchments of staff as it was not in a financial position to pay any severance packages,” said another employee.

Louw said the company was working with the Department of Labour to resolve the TERS payment and blamed a “bank error” which resulted in the funds being returned to the UIF.

In earlier correspondence to staff, Louw explained that the bank had closed an account that was  specifically opened to process TERS payments to staff because the trading account was overdrawn.

The bank subsequently closed the “TERS account” without informing the company and sent the funds back to the department, he added.

More than 50 of the 90 employees approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) after they received letters from the company informing them that it was extending the period of lay-off until the club was in a position to re-open again.

One of the employees said they also approached the SAunite organisation to highlight their plight and to seek solidarity.

“We are in the dark as to what is happening with our pension contributions. We were loyal to the company. People are suffering and with Christmas around the corner, we don’t know whether we will have any money or not”, said one employee.

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