Crime: Shebeen owners speak

2015-08-06 06:01
Zolani Mandela, Shiyigama Sulani, Nodabephi Dastile, Veliswa Poni, the president for Western Cape Shebeen Association and Nikelwa Ndzane, owners of shebeens, claim that they are also fighting crime.

Mbongiseni Maseko

Zolani Mandela, Shiyigama Sulani, Nodabephi Dastile, Veliswa Poni, the president for Western Cape Shebeen Association and Nikelwa Ndzane, owners of shebeens, claim that they are also fighting crime. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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Shebeen owners in Khayelitsha have come out of their shells dismissing claims that their operations are a haven for criminal elements in the area.

Illegal shebeen operators always take the blame whenever there are rapes or murders, but they have now raised their collective voices, and say that is not the case.

It was revealed during a Commission of Inquiry in August 2014 that there were about 1400 unlicensed taverns in Khayelitsha and only about 35 licensed ones.

The Western Cape Liquor Authority told the commission that “licensed taverns tend to be more compliant with rules regulating the sale of liquor than unlicensed taverns,”

Johan Brand, General Commander for the Khayelitsha police cluster, also added his dissatisfaction on the lawlessness which is linked with shebeens operating illegally in the area during a press conference which was held at Khayelitsha police station, on Thursday.

City Vision spoke to Veliswa Poni, the president of the Western Cape Shebeen Association and also Shiyigama Sulani, 42, owner of Sibali Liquor Store, which operates illegally in Philippi, to get their views on the claims of criminal activities in their businesses.

Sulani said shebeen owners always “fight crime” and ensure that there are no deaths in their businesses, because they do not want to be held liable for funeral expenses for a deceased patron.

He said residents enforce shebeen owners to pay all expenses for funerals if someone was killed in their shebeens.

“We have to understand that government is taking advantage on us, that is why our businesses are linked with crime. Government wants to force us out of business, because they realised that our businesses do not pay tax. They have noticed that they will make a lot of money if they force us to be registered. Some of us fight crime,” Sulani said.

Sulani said he has been in business for around 20 years now.

He added: “The high amount of money paid to lawyers who help shebeen owners who want to register their businesses is one of the reasons most shebeens are not registered.

“We cannot afford to pay the money that lawyers want. It is very expensive and we feel there is no access for us to register our shebeens even if we would like to do so,” he added.

Poni said the association was planning a meeting which will be attended by shebeen owners where all issues pertaining to their businesses will be discussed, in the near future.

Some of the issues that will be discussed are the proposed increase age of children who will be legalised to buy alcohol from 18 to 21 and licensing issues.

“They (illegal shebeens) surface anywhere and anytime. It is hard to control them.

It is very expensive to get a liquor licence. Some lawyers want R20 000 if you want to register your shebeen,” she said

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