'I felt really let down' - UCD student 'humiliated' after he was turned away from bar for being black
Two South African students living in Dublin described as "humiliating" an incident in which they were turned away from a city centre pub because there were "no blacks allowed".
Anathi Phela and Ezile Mhlambiso were refused entry to an unnamed establishment in Temple Bar on Sunday evening and were shocked to hear a security guard say that there were “no blacks allowed”.
“He was dead serious. We spoke to him to see if he was being serious or if maybe there was a language problem, but it was not a joke, not at all,” Anathi told RTE Radio One’s Liveline.
Anathi Phela, who received a prestigious scholarship to study at International Criminal Law and Criminology at UCD, said he was disappointed nobody spoke out. "
“There were people going in and out, and we had to keep moving to the side to let people go through,” he said.
While he described Irish people as “very nice and friendly”, he was disappointed that nobody stood up for them during the incident.
They immediately headed to the Garda station, and were asked to return on Tuesday to make a statement.
Anathi Phela holds a Bachelor of Law and a Master of Laws from two South African universities and was offered a scholarship at UCD to complete an ERASMUS Mundus programme.
Speaking about his scholarship at the time, Anathi said he applied for UCD because "he gets to spend a year in one of his favourite countries".
His supervisor, Professor Nomthandazo Ntlama, described him as a humble and polite student and a delight to work with.
The two friends described how they arrived at the pub on Sunday with another South African friend, and the security guard “stretched his arms out and said ‘no black people allowed’”.
They asked to speak to the manager of the pub to challenge the door policy, but the security guard refused.
Ezile described how they had to ask another representative to get the manager for them.
“He came told us about the admissions policy, and said they have a right to not disclose the reasons why they deny access to people,” she said.
“It was my first time experiencing such racism.”
The incident occurred just before 7pm, and Ezile said other patrons were permitted entry to the bar while they were speaking to the bouncer.
Outside of the bar, a group of five people were sitting at a table next to the door.
“No one intervened. No one said anything,” she said.
“It was sad, I felt really let down. I thought someone would eventually get up and say something, but no one stood up, they just watched us. It was so humiliating.”
Ezile added: “I’m never going back there again. This morning I passed the same area when going to my internship, and I wasn’t at ease.
“On the bus, I was thinking what if some people are thinking ‘I’m not going to sit next to her because she’s black'? That’s what’s been going through my mind since Sunday.”