Liquor trading association urges government to temporarily suspend licence fees

Picture for illustration. Alcohol confiscated by Sebenza SAPS at a tavern in Kempton Park West. Picture: supplied.

‘If we were assured that for a few months we won’t have to pay the licences, some taverns wouldn’t go about risking everything the way they are now,’ says the association’s president.

The Concerned Tshwane Liquor Traders Association urged the government to temporarily suspend licence fees on taverns and shebeens in the townships.

This comes after it was reported by Pretoria News that some taverns in Extension 25 and Zone 1, Ga-Rankuwa were still operating despite the government limiting the sale of alcohol during the national 21-day lockdown.

It was alleged that an employee stands by to check if there are any soldiers and police officers patrolling in the area while the business continues to sell.

The association’s president, Oupa Mthombeni, said they had spoken to tavern owner not to continue selling alcohol because of the consequences the businesses might face if caught.

“However, the association cannot keep track of how many taverns are still open. We cannot control all theses taverns daily,” he said.

Mthombeni said many tavern owners were worried about whether they could support their families during the lockdown.

He said the lockdown regulations shut out tavern owners while spaza shops and other small businesses continued to operate.

“These taverns should not continue selling alcohol as it could result in a fine and a possible jail term.

“The problem is that the owners are concerned with the fact that they will be not able to pay for liquor licences if they don’t make money as a result of the lockdown.

Mthombeni said the association called for the government to consider suspending the licence fees temporarily.

“If we were assured that for a few months we won’t have to pay the licences, some taverns wouldn’t go about risking everything the way they are now.

“I have children who are at college and my wife is unemployed; so everything is dependent on my business operating, which it isn’t at the moment,” he said.

As outlined in the Disaster Management Act, the government announced last month that all bars, shebeens, restaurants, clubs and taverns must be closed with immediate effect or accommodate no more than 50 people.

The assembly of more than 50 people at premises where liquor was sold and consumed was prohibited.

The act detailed that those businesses must close at 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 1pm on Sundays and public holidays while they may only open at 9am the next morning and the same regulations apply to all liquor stores.

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