'New booze law will kill our taverns and shebeens'- GLF

The Gauteng Liquor Forum have submitted a petition to the Gauteng legislature to stop Mahlangu from proceeding with the Gauteng Liquor Bill.

They intend to further oppose the Bill when it goes before the portfolio committee of economic development in the legislature.

The tavern and shebeen owners affiliated with the Gauteng Liquor Forum (GLF) have raised concerns about the proposed the Bill, claiming it will threaten the livelihood of many tavern and shebeen owners.

The GLF is made up of 15 associations representing over 8000 businesses.

The department of economic development expected the Bill to be law by next month, but this has been delayed by public consultations. The Bill will require all liquor traders including shebeens, taverns and sorghum beer sellers to have a licence to trade.

It is aimed at transforming the liquor industry, reducing the harm caused by consumption of alcohol and promoting sustainable economic growth.

The Bill proposes the following:

– The establishment of an appeals board where those whose applications have been rejected can lodge their appeal;

– Prohibiting the sale of alcohol to pregnant women and visibly intoxicated persons;

– Tavern owners to provide food at all times;

– Allowing the person in charge of the liquor trading outlet to ask for an ID to verify age; and

– Proximity of the liquor outlet to schools, churches, public transport and other liquor outlets.

Last year the department put a moratorium on issuing licences to improve its IT systems and establish the amount of licences. The moratorium was lifted in February.

Linda Madida, GLF spokesperson, said their concern was that it was impossible for shebeens to acquire their licences in a month.

“We are saying the application process has a lot of obstacles in it for one to get a licence. You have to get a consent user from the municipality and the zoning process.

“If it is a place for business you need rezoning, if it is a residential area you need a consent user.”

Madida said they were unhappy with the current licensing process and expected more problems with the new system.

“When the municipality comes back, it comes back with huge demands which the shebeen owner cannot meet.”

He said the municipality would demand an advance payment of water and electricity totalling R80,000.

“When inspectors come to see your place they point out a number of things you have to fix in your property, come the judgment day by the board, it rejects your application, maybe because you are closer to a school. But you have spent so much money fixing your property.”

He said liquor traders opted to use lawyers, which costs up to R24,000. “Lawyers do everything for you. People use lawyers because they hold a view that when you are assisted by a lawyer you win, but if you submit the application on your own it is not successful.”

He said making an application on your own costs just less than R5,000.

Madida welcome the Bill’s proposal of the appeal board as it would reduce legal costs.

Mahlangu’s spokesman Mandla Sidu said: “Until the Bill becomes an Act, we still have room for participation, there is still room for further engagement.

“Whatever concerns that these people have, they will be addressed. But this Act is not meant to discriminate or restrict, in fact it is meant to assist all liquor traders … that everybody should have a licence whether it is a shebeen or a tavern.”

Sidu said people could still apply and get permits based on the previous Act.

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