Silver Wolf Spur – a (bitter) taste for life

Silver Wolf SpurThis is our story of how Silver Wolf Spur negligently caused my son’s broken leg and have lied their way out of accountability.

On 1st December 2014 we had dinner as an extended family at the Silver Wolf Spur (Carnival Mall) for my sister’s birthday. The place was busy and they removed some table partitions from an extended table to make room for us, and placed them in the general walkway behind our table. At one point Oliver (our then 1 year old) was playing a game of peek-a-boo with us from behind the table. Unbeknownst to us he was standing on table partitions that had been stacked there in the walkway. Sam noticed this and told him to get down. He did so. As she was shuffling out of the cubicle to get him, Oliver and a waitress collided in the walkway … and he fell back against the table partitions, which then collapsed on him.

Offending partitionsThe noise was tremendous and his scream was even more so. We tried to calm him down and put ice on the bruised ankle and knee. Two waiters quickly removed the offending partition, leaving two behind in the general walkway. It took two of them to carry the partition, that’s how heavy these things are. The manager came over, concerned. A little while later, an area manager arrived, also concerned. Oliver eventually stopped crying and we opted to see how he was in the morning before taking him to hospital.

The next morning was spent in casualty, having x-rays and a cast put on his leg. Oliver had a fractured tibia and soft tissue damage on the ankle as a result of the accident. Naturally, he was distraught and in a lot of pain. When the nurses asked what happened, the words “We were at the Spur and …” had hardly come out of my mouth before they clicked their tongues saying, “Hau! Don’t speak to us about the Spur … we see too many kids with broken bones from the Spur!” “Oh”, I said, attempting to tell them that this was not because he jumped off some towering bridge in the play area, but was a result of a stupidly stacked piece of furniture that fell on him.

Oliver broken legThe owner of the Silver Wolf Spur, Renier Steyn, was now calling me to find out how Oliver was. I responded by saying that I considered this a case of negligence by his staff. He immediately told me he cannot accept liability, but that his insurers have my details and would be expecting a claim from me.

So we’ve submitted our claim to Mr Steyn. In the claim we detailed all the direct costs associated with having Oliver’s leg treated, our expectation that the incident be debriefed with staff, that their policy of storing table partitions be revised to prevent future incidents like this and for additional remuneration to compensate for the inconvenience (having a toddler in a full leg cast, all the trauma and crying, the hassle of bathing him, etc) and lost consulting time (both Sam and I work for ourselves) due to caring for him.

This is when the insurers, Camargue, effectively took over. I was not allowed to speak to Mr Steyn, only them. This began to irritate me, considering it was Mr Steyn, the owner, who we wanted to take responsibility for the incident, not the insurers.

In one mail from them I saw the management report Mr Steyn submitted (remember that we had not been asked for our version of events). Mr Steyn’s report effectively turned the incident inside out making ridiculous claims like Oliver was being a nuisance to other patrons, that the waiters had repeatedly asked him to go play outside and that the accident was a result of Oliver falling off the partitions due to his mother pulling him up and down the wall behind our table. None of this happened. It was blatant lying and an effort to cover his, and his staff’s backside. I called Mr Steyn immediately. He was reassuring and said he was just going on what his staff told him, and that he too was concerned about the weight of the partitions, stating that they could break anyones leg, whether young or old. I suggested he speak to his staff because someone was lying to him. He then suggested I dispute the report in writing to the insurers. I did so, outlining the facts of what actually happened. They needed to hear our side of the story in the face of such blatant distortions by Mr Steyn and/or his staff at Silver Wolf Spur.

Renier twisted reportI’ve since received a letter from Camargue, rejecting the claim regarding “your child allegedly falling off the divider due to it being stacked incorrectly”. In the end there’s “a lack of evidence to suggest that our insured acted negligently … liability is denied.” Um, no, you seem to have got this wrong dear Insurers. He did not fall off them … THEY FELL ON HIM!

Mr Steyn, who owns a host of other restaurants on the East Rand such as Spur Lakeside Mall, Mugg & Bean Lakeside Mall and Carnival Mall, Cappuccino’s, Panarotti’s and John Dory’s, is now hiding behind his insurers. His insurer’s decision seems to suit him just fine.

Our issues with this saga are two-fold:

Firstly, Mr Steyn and Spur are refusing to accept that they are the reason why our son had his leg broken. The partitions are a) ridiculously heavy and b) were stacked negligently. Being a family ‘child friendly’ restaurant, children are walking/running in the aisles at Spur all the time. If those partitions were not there, the collision between the waitress and Oliver would not have ended up in a broken leg.

Secondly, Mr Steyn and Spur have fabricated their way out of responsibility, twisting the story to such an extent that they place full blame on Sam and Oliver. As husband to Sam and father to Oliver, this makes my blood boil.

So, this is how Mr Steyn and Spur opt to treat their customers. Instead of manning up and apologising for what was clearly negligence on behalf of his staff, Mr Steyn and the staff at Spur have done their best to weed their way out of taking responsibility. This is the way he manages his franchises and this is the way he manages his staff. He’s happy to have our patronage, but not willing to accept the responsibility of looking after us as customers. You could have dealt with this differently Mr Steyn, but chose not to for some reason.

This is why we will never set foot again in a restaurant run by Mr Steyn and Renhold Foods Holdings.

The insurers have pretty much closed the claim and indicated that their lawyers will defend the matter in litigation. So we’re sending a lawyer’s letter to Mr Steyn as a last attempt to get him to take responsibility for their negligence. The monetary side of the claim doesn’t really matter to Sam and I (it’s not a substantial amount anyway), but the principle does – that our son was harmed in his restaurant and he has distorted the story to avoid a claim being paid out.

Not on.

Spur – a bitter taste for life.

UPDATE – 3rd February 2015

Shortly after publishing this post I got a call from Amanda van Wyk, the Spur Franchise Executive for Gauteng. She apologised profusely for how this issue had been handled and promised to make it right. The next day, before even having to send out the lawyer’s letter, I received confirmation from Spur that the partitions had been stacked incorrectly, that the insurance claim would be paid out and we also received a personal letter of apology from Renier Steyn. We’ve spent the last week haggling with the insurers who wanted to negotiate on the settlement – they seemed particularly peeved at having to pay out – but I’ve just signed the form that will process payment.

Sam and I are glad that Spur, the insurer and Mr Steyn have come to the party and taken responsibility. We can now put this behind us. It did not need to escalate to this point.

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36 responses to “Silver Wolf Spur – a (bitter) taste for life”

  1. Angi Ellett says:

    This is absolutely shocking! I genuinely hope you guys win this – this is absolutely not on! We will definitely not support any of his restaurants during our visits to JHB. Well done for fighting this!

  2. Angie Fouche says:

    I am so sorry about how this whole thing has been handled, it could have been done so differently, decently, honestly. I will spread the word and boycot Mr Steyn.

    For Oliver !!!!

  3. Paula Lopes says:

    How sad, feel sorry for your child. It’s terrible that service has come to this not just Spur, many places….just disgusting service and responsibility on their

  4. Bruce says:

    Aren’t there cameras all over Spur? It is one person’s word against another. I would be hesitant to point fingers at this stage.

  5. Shaun says:

    Im sorry to hear about your son. I however see it differently. I feel you as the parent have been negligent. Firstly it is your responsibility as a parent to watch your child at ALL times and not to assume he or she is safe. I would never leave my childs safety in the hands of any person. Your child firstly should have not been playing in the walkway, that’s why there are play areas. Secondly the minute your child stood on a free standing object YOU as the parent should have taken him to a place of safety. It also seems that you never had a problem with the petition standing there until it hurt your child. If you felt it was so negligent and dangerous why did you not get the manager to remove them immediately. I repeat again it is your job as a parent to make sure your child is safe at all times.

  6. I guess it would be smart to go back to the hospital and get some stories from the nurses about other broken legs. And it that doesn’t work find them via social media. Usually that is when companies start to listen. Innovation (changing ones attitude and values) requires pain to get started. A sad fact, but also a strong one.

  7. Grant Nicol (@Grant_za) says:

    Terrible story, Surely a Spur in a mall would have CCTV footage, could that perhaps not be used to win your clam?

  8. Delme says:

    So sorry to hear about this guys. Thinking of you all – hope and pray that justice is done at some stage. God bless, Delme

  9. Philip says:

    I Have to agree with Shaun, and this is why.

    “At one point Oliver (our then 1 year old) was playing a game of peek-a-boo with us from behind the table”

    Your one year old should be sitting next to you in a baby chair and not playing peek-a-boo from behind the table. Alternatively there is a designated play area for your child. I also have 2 small children and we frequent the spur often.

    What happen to your child is terrible and it is never nice seeing them get hurt but I am afraid you can not blame spur entirely for this incident. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure your child’s safety.

    Also, surely the CCTV footage should confirm what all parties are saying (or not saying)?

  10. Natalie says:

    In response to Shaun and Phillip. I was present at this incident. Yes, correct, Oliver was playing a game of Peek a boo standing on these partitions – there is no denial. He should not have been there in the first place. Correct. When Sam realised what he was standing on, she stopped it. The actual incident did not occur from him standing on these partitions. He then got off, and as he came around to our table, he collided with a waitress and bumped into these partitions (one stacked on top of the other). It made a horrific noise when it fell. And so did Oliver. I think the point of all this, is that those partitions should NOT be in the isles. You cannot deny that most kids run in these isles, to and from the play area. I don’t believe you can blame this incident on poor parenting.

    The other problem here, is that the staff are lying. Blatantly.

  11. Tarryn says:

    Firstly I think this is disgusting, a true reflection on why south Africa is in a disaster, because it’s so easy for people to know they wrong and have no guilt, but rather pass the blame. Surely logic tells you stacking those partitions is very dangerous especially in a spur where the isle is tiny and often crowded. Secondly I’ve been to that spur and seen children running riot and no waiter or manager came to ask the child to play outside or asked the parents to calm the child and thirdly I know this family well, and Aiden and Sam are fantastic parents who would not allow their children to jump on and across or over anything. Their children’s safety is a huge concern to them and this manager needs to face up to what has happened appologise and rather instruct or educate his staff on where things should go and have procedures that must be followed. Yes accidents happen but this accident could have very easily been avoided!!

  12. Ralph says:

    If you were a half decent parent you wouldnt allow your kids playing on the partition in the first place. Stop tring to shift blame. You failed as a parent. End of story.

  13. Anthony says:

    Firstly i think the real reflection on why South Africa is a disaster is because of the lack of discipline, small children should not be running around climbing on things in a restaurant, thats what they have a designated play area with trained child minders for.This is a terible thing that happened to a small child yes,but here i must say the responsibility is squarely on the shoulders of the parents,being the child is so young.The managers are there to run the restaurant,not teach children disipline.The nurses cannot say these accidents happen at Spur only,anyplace where a child is not monitored by a responsible person, the child is bound to get hurt.I see a few franchises are mentioned here, being they had absolutely nothing to do with the incident it leads me to believe that working for yourselves has left you a bit short on money i think.

  14. Brian Smith says:

    Surely the responsibility to keep one’s child safe should not be compromised by the negligence of the Institution. If there was any risk, there should have been signage on the partitions. Aiden and Sam, I assume, are not experts in the engineering dynamics of stacking partitions and might not have recognized the extent of the danger. Whereas the staff,well, stack them daily. Two responses. 1) As much as I feel for the family and it is horrible to go through such an experience, this is also about the risk to the next child. The only way to raise the awareness of the public about the risk is to boycott very publically. I hope we create a tsunami on social media.
    2) Isn’t public liability insurance only paid out when it is shown that the insured was negligent? That’s why they are have the insurance in the first place.

    Lots of love to you Aiden,Sam and especially Oliver.

  15. Gwyn says:

    As a witness to this incident, the points are primarily that the franchise parties concerned firstly refuse to accept any negligent practice on their part and worst of all – blantantly completely fabricated the events of the night. Thus, demonstrating a complete lack of integrity and ethics. Shameful. This structure could just as easily have fallen on the waitress’ foot and crushed it. Would the 23 month old and his mother still be blamed? This is an example of the decay and rot in our society. Evil happens when good people do nothing.

  16. Jacques says:

    Firstly, Ralph’s comment is so absurd it deserves no response. As for Sean, Phillip and Anthony, they expose themselves as social media agents working for Spur or the insurance company by deliberately twisting their interpretations. Nice try guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if your comments were written from the same computer.

    In any case, parenting is freak’n hard enough without negligent, lying losers making it harder (phew, I nearly swore there). Ask any real parent about the times their kids got hurt and they didn’t stop it, my guess is they’ll agree: real life teaches parents humility and grace. The absence of these qualities in your comments disqualify you from an opinion on the subject.

    But okay, let’s assume I’m wrong and that you are serious commentators, real parents with real views about real things (as opposed to agents with preconceived ideas and a spin agenda), please respond to the pertinent points:

    a) If you except Aiden’s version of events, do you think it is okay for Spur to create hazards in their isles and do you believe it’s okay for them to lie about it, irrespective of your beautiful (and unrealistic) ideals on parental responsibility?

    b) If you don’t agree with Aiden’s version of events, why don’t you come out, say it and then justify your “more credible” version.

  17. Jason says:

    Whoa, some folks clearly never been to a Spur, and for the very reason, I don’t go is the kid friendly environment is claimed and allowed, by staff and patrons. In kid friendly advertised environment, storage in this manner is a hazard, and it appears the owner has been lawyered up and shut up by the insurance firm, as he did show limited concern, by phoning to follow up.

    Last I checked it is also not legal to bubble wrap your kids to ensure they safe, so blaming the parents is lame.

    Sam, Aidan best of luck with making use of social media to find other victims of such carelessnes and may be 702 needs to know!

  18. Jose says:

    My question is. If this had to happen to an adult what would the outcome be ? Do I need my parents to also watch over me ?
    To me this is negligent on sper side.
    This falls under the Safty Act. In a public area.

  19. jinx says:

    Sorry to say this but this whole thing sounds like a money making scam to me. Why even go on with it? Its over! Now you are first of all trying to make a fool out of spur and second you are making a fool out of yourself. Is your son really 1? Because he looks much older than that. One more thing next time you must get your information from someone / somewhere else because they own so many more places than you think and the staff is AWESOME with kids and I know this for a fact. And play areas are there for a reason so next time make use of them……

  20. Jo says:

    I am beyond stunned at the comments that people like Jinx are making. Why on earth would parents who are clearly wealthy and successful make this up to reclaim probably max R5000? And what skin off Spur’s nose is it just to pay the claim? Probably because if they admit liability they would have to increase their insurance claims and nationwide those ridiculous partitions would have to be removed. In the UK, the Spur franchise would have closed down after this. The blatant lies of the big corps and the damn finger pointing at parents who are clearly not negligent is disgusting. You know what’s negligent? Sending your 2 year old to the spaza shop in a township or getting your nine year old knocked up so you can claim benefits. Playing peek-a-boo in a ‘child-friendly’ restaurant is not.

  21. Jo says:

    And anybody with kids who has ever been the Spur (trust us it’s not out of our great love of the FOOD) knows that children never stay in the play areas – and perhaps the fact that the ‘minders’ – braindead mouth breathers – let them OUT of the play area in the first place – and do not escort them back to their parent’s table (to eat because ya, it’s a restaurant) makes them even MORE liable.

  22. Carey says:

    I’m sorry but what is it about this day and age that people believe their children are everybody else’s problem. Spur being a kids restaurant doesn’t mean children are supposed to climb the walls like monkeys, the walkways are exactly that- WALKways, and it is most not the responsibilty of the child minders to escort your child to and from your table every time it wants a chip, it is YOUR child and YOUR responsibility. Can we also look at this from the staffs perspective- those walkways are full of children yes, but this child climbing on things and running up and down and then running into a staff member could have resulted in the staff member falling and breaking something and they wouldn’t have a doting mother (who hasn’t taught her child how to behave in public) to pay all the costs or take up law suits. I’m sorry but children were getting hurt on play grounds or even in their own back yard long before there was a Spur kids area, kids fall and they hurt themselves its just reality- it is our job as parents to teach them where they can and cannot play.

  23. David says:

    Im curious how was the child playing peek a boo unless he was standing on the stack up partitions and if so then he fell off them and not them onto him ? just wondering !

  24. jinx says:

    Well Jo sorry if you are disgusted by my comment but most of it is true this incident apparently happened almost a year ago and the spurs that I go to also owned by Mr Steyn the child minders do actually bring your child to you and if they maybe do get hurt the come and tell you what happened. But there is a story behind this story. I heard this one they trying to tell me and everybody else and I know the other story so there will be no more comments from me I believe the other side of the story more.

  25. Fay says:

    Definitely don’t go to Spur for the food. In fact I find it awful. I find it stupid that anyone can judge another parent for not looking after their child when none of us were there to view the incident. As a parent, I know I’m always on full gaurd with my kids, but agree you cannot bubble wrap them, nor are we kangaroos and have to keep them in our pouch 24/7 and that is the very reason we go to Spur – because a kid friendly environment, safety is supposed to be of the utmost importance more than any other Resturant as you are targeting children to come to your Resturant. Accident can happen, but partitions on the floor is pure negligence. It’s a no brainer, responsibility needs to be taken.

    Thanks for spreading the word, we will make sure we don’t support any of their restaurants. All the best to your family.

  26. nekitta says:

    Sorry to hear about what happened to your baby boy…but stop trying to put the blame on other people… you as a parent should be watching your kid period… He shouldn’t have been playing on things that are not to be played on… its not there job to correct others children but it’s your job… you should be watching ur child where ever u go…Unfortunately my view on this is that it’s your fault not anyone else’s … take responsibility they are getting paid to serve food not for a nursery

  27. Jo says:

    Obviously all of you asshats saying parents should watch their kids 24/7 are not parents. Just quickly go have kids while you still KNOW EVERYTHING! How is it the parent’s fault that the partitions were not put away safely? If he had bumped into the waitress because he was in the walkway (which you will see is what happened if any of you trolls actually can read?) then he would’ve fallen on his bum and cried and been okay. But the partition that SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THERE fell on his leg when he bumped into the waitress and it. What if it fell on the waitresses’ leg? Maybe then we could all be hounding her parents and telling them to come watch her every move at work? This is pure and simply negligence on the Spur’s part.

  28. Alex says:

    Be a better parent and teach your kid not to climb over everything. Stop trying to extort money from Spur because you had to pay for the hospital bills. You are a parent of a child and things like this will happen. This is not America. If this claim paid out then it would set a precedent for future claims like this. What gives you the right to persuade people to boycott spur because of your unfortunate situation. At this point in time it’s the word of a disgruntled mother vs the word those Spur employees.

  29. Christie Collier-Mann says:

    I dislike Spur intensely at the best of times and now they will never see me again. Kids will be kids and yes at a FAMILY Restaurant, you would expect to see kids up and down the isles going from the playground to the table and back again. Those partitions should not have been stacked in the isle full stop and for the owner of Spur to lie so blatantly about the chain of events, speaks volumes about his integrity and moral fibre.
    The partitions could have fallen on anyone, would we then be blaming their parents and accusing them on trying to cash in on their child’s injury?

  30. katherine says:

    Aisles guys!

  31. aiden says:

    Dear Shaun, Philip, Ralph, Anthony, Jinx (especially you), Carey, Nekitta and Alex.

    Thank you for taking the time to read our story and to share your well thought-through perspectives with us.

    As you can see from the update I’ve posted to the blog post today, Spur have admitted fault, apologised and will be paying out our claim. I did not demand this of them but they came to the party in less than 24hrs. Your trollish claims of our parental negligence are unfounded and perhaps speak more of your own baggage rather than the substance of our story. Blessings to you.

    Angi, Angie, Paula, Bruce, Harold, Grant, Delme, Natalie, Tarryn, Brian, Mom, Jacques, Jason, Jose, Jo, Fay and Christie … you guys rock!

  32. Shaun says:

    You what Aiden. I’m extremely glad that they admitted liability and paid the claim. That shows the end result which I think everyone was hoping for. I never wish ill on kids and we all make mistakes. What erks me now is that u chose not to just publish the result, but choose to name “us” and “shame” us that didn’t agree with ur version. If u didn’t want free thinking people with their own individual thoughts commenting then don’t post ur story on a social platform. The last time I checked there was freedom of speech and we should praise debate and individual thought. Not to be called trolls because we choose to accept and voice a different opinion to you and others. I was happy u posted my post because I felt u respected a different opinion, which was first and not nasty at all. But now I just feel like u wanted to just fuel ur own adjenda as oppose to sparking a reasonable debt. Hope ur son has recovered well.

  33. Louise says:

    Hi there

    I read your blog now in absolute disbelieve… Our daughter (age 5), slipped on the play canyon over the weekend at our local Spur, due to negligence of the Play Canyon Assistant not keeping the play area clean from a spillage, and causing my daughter to fall 1,7m from the play canyon, where there was NO railings to stop the risk of falling.

    We spent 2 days in Hospital – her entire right arm in cast.

    I would love to speak to you about your claim, as we our self is in the process of submitting a Public Liability claim against our local Spur.

    Hope your little man is doing better!!!


  34. angelqiue says:

    Hi my name is Angelique I would like to know what I can do, my 2year old son was also at spur playing in the playroom under no supervision and went down the slide fell and broke his elbow and they had to operate the next morning and has to go again in 4weeks time to remove the wires in teater. What do I do are they responsible and can I claim from public liability??

  35. aiden says:

    Hi Angelique

    So sorry to hear about your son’s injury.

    That Spur will have liability insurance, so yes you should claim, BUT (and this was our big fight) the owner/franchisee will hand you over to the insurance company to fight it and it all rests on whether they can establish if they (Spur) will indeed liable for negligence. They’ll ask for your statement and they’ll get a statement from the Spur and make a determination. This is something the Spur’s and insurance companies are well experienced in dealing with, so don’t let yourself be bullied by them. In our case there was clear negligence and they lied about their actions, that’s why we fought so hard.

    Contact the owner (if he/she hasn’t already made contact with you) and lay out your case. This is when the insurance company should step in.

    Good luck.

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