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 7466 to date, an increase of 290 compared to the same period last year, although this was still a decline of 843 outlets from the 8309 registered during the 2014/15 financial year.
Of the 7466 outlets, the majority of licence holders, 4834, are taverns which have on and off consumption licences and these are licensed to open from 10am to 12pm during the week.
Another 1388 licences are for on-consumption outlets, which may be open between 10am and 2am in the week, and the remaining 1227 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. — firstname.lastname@example.org