New era for shebeens

2010-11-04 00:00

FOR the first time, popular township liquor outlets like taverns and shebeens will be recognised as legitimate liquor businesses following the passing of the KZN Liquor Bill, a process that has taken about 10 years.

The new law replaces the 1989 KZN Liquor Act. It was passed during the KZN Legislature sitting at Nkwezela in the Sisonke district after a process of formulation and amendments that started in 2000.

The 1989 Liquor Act did not legally recognise taverns and shebeens.

The passing of the bill was supported by all parties except the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), which reportedly tried to force it back to the portfolio committee to undergo more amendments.

ACDP MP Jo-Ann Downs was quoted in the media as saying the party is seeking an amendment that accommodates the restriction of hours for the sale of liquor on Sundays.

According to the new bill, it is now going to be illegal to open a tavern, a shebeen or a pub within a 500 metre radius of a church, school or tribal court.

For more than a year now, the youth wing of the ruling ANC has been campaigning for that clause to be included in the laws governing liquor trading.

In a statement issued on behalf of the ANC caucus in the KZN Legislature, S’khumbuzo Qwabe said the enactment of the bill will bring a mechanism “that will allow sanity to prevail in the chaotic situation in the liquor trade”.

This will allow monitoring, control and implementation of laws governing the selling of alcohol in the province. No business can operate unregulated and just anywhere the owner feels like, Qwabe said.

“The legislation will allow consultation between the applicant for a liquor business licence with the affected communities before the licence is issued. Enforcement of this legislation will also allow police to close down or arrest people breaking the law by running illegal shebeens or having taverns in unregulated areas.”

Qwabe said the ANC acknowledges the challenges that will be created when the Act comes into force because there are “a great number of liquor businesses being run in areas that are not zoned for this kind of business”.

“We are therefore going to seek the review of their licences to allow community participation in the decision to let the businesses continue operating, or not if the community object to the businesses.”

It is now left to Premier Zweli Mkhize to sign the bill into law.

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