Bad cinema experience

Tushar Panchal, Parklands

My brother, 16, girlfriend, 19, and I,19, wanted to watch a movie at Ster Kinekor, Bayside, but we were hungry and had burgers to eat beforehand.

However, we were 20 minutes late for the movie so we ate what we could and put the rest in my girlfriend’s bag, so we would not miss the movie we had bought tickets and popcorn for.

At Ster Kinekor it was just the three of us and we felt as if we were being watched and plotted against almost like we don’t belong there. The lady who checks the tickets just took my girlfriend’s bag and looked inside without her consent.

She said we can’t go in because we brought food from outside and that the cinema would smell of burgers when the cinema was empty.

We asked for the manager, but the manager quite blatantly laughed in our face and we found ourselves surrounded by their employees. When we asked to use their phone to call the head office, the manager said: “Use your own phone.”

We eventually spoke to the head office and the lady on the phone sounded dull and uninterested but she seemed to understand and then asked to speak to the manager.

So we handed the phone to the manager who spoke for about the next two minutes in Xhosa — which I know is not allowed as they need to speak in English. We took the phone back, but the head office woman rudely ended the call without resolving the issue.

The manager again laughed in our faces almost as if she told the lady on the phone to hang up because we were overreacting and were kids not adults.

I asked for my money back and handed the popcorn to one of the staff who said, “Go put it back where you got it from.”

I was shocked and furious, so I took the money and left.

We really felt that this was a race issue as a lot of people go in with bags and school bags but no one checks.

We had seen white and black kids and adults enter without being stopped, but we were just because we were young Indian children and they thought we were defenceless.

My mother phoned head office and laid a complaint but nothing was done and she didn’t get any feedback, basically because she is Indian.

We are equal members of this community and pay just as much as any resident here. Why should we feel like we are not worthy of being here or that we should have to travel elsewhere to watch movies.

This is totally not fair. I don’t want anything out of this; I just want me and my family to feel worthy of being in this area, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

Ster-Kinekor responds: Ster-Kinekor Theatres are aware of the complaint at Bayside Cinema. It is the company policy that customers are not permitted to bring their own food and drinks into cinemas.

Our staff do not search all customers who come into the cinemas, but they are authorised to conduct a search should they suspect that customers are bringing their own food or beverages into the cinema.

If they find that customers are trying to bring their own food and drinks into the cinema, they have been instructed not to allow this. If a customer notices another customer bringing food into the cinema, they can alert the manager.

We don’t allow customers to bring their own snacks into the cinema for the same reason why they can’t take their own food into a restaurant.

Also, we “sell” the same seat up to six times a day, depending on the film’s screening schedule, and the seats have to be cleaned each time.

If customers brought in their own food, such as ice-creams, burgers, pizzas and the like, the potential mess to clean-up after each show, and thus the resultant customer impact on other patrons, is sizeable.

Catering items are available at all Ster-Kinekor Theatres and customers are free to purchase drinks and snacks from the catering counter to enjoy in the cinema.