McDonalds: closed (in Stanger Central)
    • McDonald's has been ordered to vacate a restaurant it opened in KwaDukuza in February.
    • The outlet opened before it had a business licence, and was a pretty bad neighbour.
    • The high court in Durban dismissed its complaint that it was treated unfairly.
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    McDonald's has been kicked out of its restaurant in the Stanger Central area of KwaDukuza until the local municipality is satisfied the building is safe and in line with other requirements – with something of a rebuke for the way it started operating in the first place.

    Instead of sorting out building permission and getting its business licence in order for the new outlet, the high court in Durban said in a judgment, McDonald's simply opened its doors, then ignored repeated instructions from the municipal authority to stop.

    The law on business licensing "applies to all persons, irrespective of a single trader or a multinational corporation," said high court judge Mahendra Chetty. 

    McDonald's complained it was treated unfairly, and that the KwaDukuza municipality broke its own procedures in not condoning its operations. Rather than shutting down the restaurant, McDonald's argued, it should have been fined for any breaches – to the amount of R4,000, for a business with a monthly turnover of R1.36 million.

    Chetty was not receptive, pointing to concerns about electrical compliance which goes to the heart of safety... "not only to patrons, but also to staff of the establishment".

    "The local authority would be failing in its statutory obligations if it succumbed to pressure from a business, whose primary concern is the loss of revenue at this time, and compromised on health and safety standards for the sake of expediency," Chetty said in judgment.

    McDonald's KwaDukuza opened on 3 February, and applied for a business licence more than a week later. By June the municipality still had a number of concerns, including that fire extinguishers were not in the right place, that electrical cables had not been buried – and that McDonald’s was a bad neighbour.

    "The noise created by the on-site generator is objectionable and residents in the immediate vicinity have previously raised concerns," the municipality told the fast food outlet in a letter. 

    McDonald's dismissively referred to a final notice from the municipality to get its house in order as a threat. 

    But the municipality "must be seen to treat all those within its jurisdiction equally, whether they are hawkers on the street or a large multinational corporation," said Chetty. "Neither is permitted to carry on business or to occupy the premises without the necessary statutory authorisation."

    (Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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