EC Liquor Board cracks whip, closes 700 il­le­gal out­lets through­out prov­ince

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - By MBALI TANANA

OVER the past 19 months the East­ern Cape Liquor Board has shut down over 700 il­le­gal liquor out­lets – and the agency has plans to in­ten­sify its ef­forts to en­sure op­por­tunists are held ac­count­able and liquor traders ad­here to their trad­ing con­di­tions dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

ECLB spokesman Msiya Mg­webi said they were fight­ing a con­stant bat­tle against il­le­gal out­lets.

As they shut down one and con­fis­cated the al­co­hol, an­other sprang up else­where. There was also a con­certed ef­fort to en­sure that le­gal traders ad­hered to their trad­ing hours which, al­though set out in terms of the liquor li­cence, can vary ac­cord­ing to their re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal by­laws.

“We closed down more than 400 il­le­gal out­lets in our last fi­nan­cial year and more than 300 to date, and had to con­fis­cate liquor and re­fer [the case] to crim­i­nal jus­tice,” he said.

The board re­vealed an in­crease in the num­ber of reg­is­tered out­lets through­out the prov­ince this year at 7 466 to date, an in­crease of 290 com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, al­though this was still a de­cline of 843 out­lets from the 8 309 reg­is­tered dur­ing the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year.

Of the 7 466 out­lets, the ma­jor­ity of li­cence hold­ers, 4 834, are tav­erns which have on and off con­sump­tion li­cences and these are li­censed to open from 10am to 12pm dur­ing the week.

An­other 1 388 li­cences are for on­con­sump­tion out­lets, which may be open be­tween 10am and 2am in the week, and the re­main­ing 1 227 are off-con­sump­tion out­lets, which are ex­pected to open be­tween 9am and 10pm. While these times are as per the liquor laws, mu­nic­i­pal by­laws can af­fect these times con­sid­er­ably.

“As we ap­proach the fes­tive sea­son we will in­ten­sify our ef­forts in en­sur­ing that our liquor traders ad­here to their trad­ing con­di­tions, which in­clude clos­ing times, not sell­ing to peo­ple un­der age and re­frain­ing from play­ing loud mu­sic that dis­turbs neigh­bours.

“We will also be out on the roads work­ing with road safety [Ar­rive Alive] to raise aware­ness against drunken driv­ing.”

Mg­webi said al­though the ma­jor­ity of ap­pli­ca­tions for liquor li­cences comes from ru­ral ar­eas, the con­cen­tra­tion of liquor out­lets is town­ships and ci­ties be­cause of the num­ber of res­i­dents.

“Our leg­is­la­tion pre­scribes that if the prospec­tive liquor out­let is less than 100 me­tres from a school, church or pub­lic place, an ap­pli­cant will be supplied with a dif­fer­ent form, known as Form 2, to sub­mit to the school for the school gov­ern­ing board to ap­prove the open­ing of a liquor out­let or the lead­ers of the church in the event of it be­ing a church.

“For ev­ery liquor out­let within a 100m ra­dius of a school, the school must be served with Form 2 so they can ap­prove or ob­ject to the pro­posed out­let.”

Mg­webi warned learn­ers and stu­dents cur­rently writ­ing ex­ams to guard against the pres­sure to in­dulge in ex­ces­sive drink­ing sprees known as “Pens Down”, or ukuh­lamba int­loko, to cel­e­brate the end of the school year.

“We wish to ad­vise them to re­frain from that re­pug­nant ten­dency, which has led to the death of some learn­ers in parts of the prov­ince,” he said. —

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