Bottle stores closed

2011-03-28 00:00

EIGHTEEN bottle stores were closed and 19 fined for contravening liquor laws during raids on the South Coast that took place over the weekend, the trade and industry department said yesterday.

Forty hotels, sports bars and taverns were raided between Thursday evening and yesterday morning in Port Shepstone, Margate, Port Edward and Umzinto, spokesperson Bongani Lukhele said in a statement.

Big Ben in Port Shepstone, Marine Bottle Store on Nelson Mandela Drive and Merlewood Liquor Store were some of the outlets that were forced to close down until they have rectified their licensing issues.

“The outlets were closed down and their owners fined because they did not adhere to the conditions of the liquor licences issued for their businesses,” the department’s liquor authority deputy director, Sandile Nkosi, was quoted as saying.

Lukhele confirmed that local police officers were used to conduct the raids, These officers examined the state of the establishments in addition to ensuring that they had liquor licences.

“Issues around health and safety such as the amount of toilets and emergency exits an establishment has were also taken into consideration,” he said.

“At one place in Margate we found nearly 1 000 people in a venue that should be holding 500; these kinds of issues also formed part of the raids.”

Lukhele added that the purpose of the raids was not only to enforce laws and regulations but to educate the license holders.

“In many cases we found that the owners of the places were not even aware of what the laws were or that they were doing anything wrong,” said Lukhele.

Some establishments were found to be merely selling alcohol when, according to their licences, they also had to be running a restaurant.

“By fining them we are ensuring that they are now aware of the laws and hopefully they will abide by them.”

Fines issued were between R500 and R3 000, depending on the offence.

The operation started on Thursday with inspections of liquor manufacturers and distributors in Margate and Marburg, where primary school children from a nearby school were found playing soccer next to a bottle store.

The owner was ordered to close his business until he had fenced off the area to prevent school children from accessing it.

Nkosi said the operation was a success in that it proved that various government agencies can achieve a lot if they co-operated in monitoring and enforcing compliance with the country liquor laws.

“The high number of businesses which are contravening their licence conditions proved that there are business people who either flout the law deliberately, or do not understand what the conditions under which their licences were issued, entail,” added Nkosi.

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