Cocobean, a popular joint in Kigali is under the spotlight after one of its revelers claimed she was denied entry because she is an albino.
And now, Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the regulator of the country’s service sector, has picked up the case and is conducting an investigation.
Nodumo Ncomanzi from Zimbabawe, who is visiting Rwanda for the first time, told The New Times in an exclusive interview that she chose to speak out against discrimination because it was not the first time it was happening.
“I’ve had this obvious experience. This was the second time,” she said, adding that she was compelled to start speaking out on such typical social discrimination that many other people are going through but remain silent.
Ncomanzi had gone out with her friends when the bouncers at this club denied her entry on Saturday night.
The RDB chief tourism officer, Belise Kariza, said they are trying to understand the reality of what happened, and action will be taken.
“Investigation is ongoing. Appropriate measures will be taken,” Kariza wrote on Twitter.
Other senior government officials joined in condemning the allegations of discrimination. They included the Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye who promised to follow up on the case.
According to the anti-discrimination law in Rwanda, any person who commits the crime of discrimination and sectarian practices shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years and is liable for a fine of up to Rwf 1million.
Ncomanzi told The New Times that while she has had to deal with silent discrimination, it is only very recently that she started experiencing it openly.
In an interview with Eugene Habimana, a.k.a Cobra, the owner of Cocobean, said they are still trying to get to the bottom of the matter and promised to take serious action.
Cobra was the proprietor of the now defunct Cadillac night club.
“We are going to suspend the bouncer as we continue to carry out investigations,” Cobra said.
In a phone interview with his boss, the bouncer who worked that night denied the allegations, claiming that they only denied people who were “too drunk”.
“We really agree that we denied them entry after we saw that they were too drunk, but we did not do this because one of them was an albino,” the bouncer told his boss’s phone.
Meanwhile, Ncomanzi’s tweets attracted a series of angry reactions from several people, including those who claimed to have experienced discriminatory acts from the same club.
The owner denied these allegations, saying that customers are not judged on their skin colour or race, but he went ahead to reveal that the club had its own policies that guide them, which regardless of whether local or foreigner, have to be respected.
“For instance, we don’t allow people with shorts and sandals in the club. But this doesn’t mean that we strictly stop all people with shorts and sandals to enter the club,” Cobra explained.