Tourists outside Mzoli's in April 2006
|Location||Gugulethu township, Cape Town, South Africa|
Mzoli's (also known as Mzoli's Palace, Mzoli's Meat, or Mzoli's Butchery) is a butchery in Gugulethu, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Since Mzoli's opened in early 2003, the restaurant has become a popular gathering spot for Cape Town residents and a tourist attraction. Amongst Gugulethu's residents, Mzoli's Place has a reputation for public drunkenness and disrespect for the local community. Mzoli's is named after the founder and owner, Mzoli Ngcawuzele.
The establishment opened in early 2003. Owner Mzoli Ngcawuzele obtained start-up funding from the Development Bank of South Africa, which supports black-owned businesses. In October 2006, an economic study said that Mzoli had "moved, from selling meat informally from a garage, to owning one of the most popular hangouts in Cape Town".
In November 2006, more than 30 restaurant patrons, including a group of tourists and Democratic Alliance councillor Masizole Mnqasela, were arrested in a police raid for drinking in public. The restaurant did not sell alcohol, but Ngcawuzele explained that he could not stop people from bringing their own. The incident generated controversy in the local press. Tour operator Ryan Hunt claimed that police swore at the patrons and threatened people for asking questions. "The police created a dangerous situation. People are always encouraged to visit township attractions, but now they are turned away with that kind of situation," he said. Mnqasela, a member of Cape Town's economic development committee, added, "Mzoli's is internationally acclaimed and is key to township tourism. What kind of message are the police sending?" The African National Congress approved the police actions, citing a need to curtail public drunkenness.
Located in the township of Gugulethu, a black neighbourhood 15 kilometres southeast of the centre of Cape Town, Mzoli's is a "do-it-yourself" market and eatery, selling meat to patrons who in turn hire independent entrepreneurs running braai stalls on the grounds to grill the meat and prepare meals. Mzoli's also provides live entertainment and has become noted as a venue for deep house and kwaito music.
As well as local people, Mzoli's attracts television stars, DJs such as DJ Fresh, politicians such as Tony Yengeni, businesspeople, tourists, and college students. Mzoli's is considered to be a "base camp" where "black diamonds" gather and network. In September 2006, Sasha Planting of Financial Mail called it "the destination for everyone".
Reception by locals
Some local residents near a long-planned shopping mall that is being built by a business partly owned by Mzoli's owner criticized his plans in 2008. Some businesses were legally evicted or threatened with eviction from older buildings owned by Mzoli, which were then knocked down to make room for the new property development. Other nearby residents have complained that the property developer has not hired enough local residents. Critics threatened to vandalize or burn both Mzoli's and Ngcauwezele's home if he did not meet their demands for jobs and permanent, guaranteed space for informal traders at the new shopping mall.
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