Notorious drug den closed

2015-09-08 06:00
Mezani Lounge on the corner of Main and Bowden roads has been closed after its liquor licence was temporarily suspended.

Mezani Lounge on the corner of Main and Bowden roads has been closed after its liquor licence was temporarily suspended.

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A notorious drug den in Observatory, Mezani Lounge, has been closed following a temporary suspension of the owner’s liquor trading licence last week.

The suspension of the Lounge’s licence follows several raids by Woodstock police at the premises on the corner of Main and Bowden roads. The liquor authority presented its information gathered about the club to the liquor licensing tribunal, leading to the suspension.

The Lounge has been rocked by scandals. Drugs were found on the premises in several raids. Drug dealers have allegedly sold drugs at the premises in broad daylight. There are also allegations that a rape has happened on the premises, which led to several community leaders writing letters saying they are sick and tired of Mezani and they want it gone. If they are allowed to continue trading, the community would be reduced to nothing as drug dealers have a spot to sell their drugs, they say.

After compelling evidence was put forward to the Western Cape liquor authority the tribunal filed for an urgent call to close the doors of the Lounge.

Now Daniel Lossy, the owner of Mezani Lounge, has to wait for his hearing on a date still to be set. While this might be good news for the Observatory community, community leaders say a lot still needs to be done. They say this is not a victory for Observatory but a victory for the liquor authority, which is starting to show its work. Community members believe it’s not a good thing that only eight liquor licences have be revoked in a province where there is more than 23 000 liquor outlets.

Councillor Paddy Chapple says months of hard work has finally paid off.

“It’s a step in the right direction. The suspension means he can’t continue trading in alcohol and if he does so he will be breaking the law. We are looking forward to the final hearing,” he says.

Barrie Terblance, chairperson of the Community Police Forum subforum, says the victory for the Observatory community is not so much against the club as it is over the dysfunction, inactiveness and imbalance of the Liquor Act and the liquor tribunal.

“[The closing of] Mezani is a victory for improving the system, which is not working properly. There are a lot of murders, assaults and domestic violence and only eight licences had been suspended. This shows something is desperately wrong. Leaders in the community had to write letters to question why Mezani is still operating when evidence was brought forward of the damage it’s doing to the society.
“We were told it wasn’t a priority but we kept pushing until something was done. We are glad that it has worked and there is still more than can be done,” he says.
“Observatory is a small place and having about 60 liquor outlets is really drowning us. A lot has to be done; the community can’t take it anymore.
“As much as the liquor authority is good in handing out licences it must be twice as good in suspending them if the licence holders are being problematic. However, they seem to be reluctant or very slow when it comes to suspending licences.

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