COMMUNITY members in Umzinto are protesting the opening of a liquor outlet within the residential area of Hazelwood. The group of disgruntled residents held a meeting at the Umzinto community hall on Tuesday evening to air their grievances and devise ways to fight the outlet owner’s application for a liquor licence. The meeting was chaired by community leader Sham Padayachee and ANC regional spokesperson Selvan Chetty was invited to guide residents on their “activism strategy”. The protest culminates from a liquor licence application by a local business owner. The application was objected to by the local liquor traders association and a hearing with the national liquor board is ongoing.Residents have also submitted petitions to the local police regarding the matter. At the meeting on Tuesday, residents raised concerns such as the fear that opening a liquor outlet in a residential area would increase the crime rate in the area and lead to noise disturbances. There was also a concerns about the effects of the outlet on school children and other pedestrians who walk in the area frequently.“We already have the problem of people entering our houses to steal clothes and other small items on a daily basis in this community so bringing in a tavern would only exacerbate the issue. Also, I believe that we are supposed to be given at least 21 days’ notice before something like this is granted in our community. However, I don’t believe that was done,” said Norman Ebhrahim from the area. Wanda Somfiyane, who lives in Thokoza, said that although he does not live in the area, people from his community work in the area and have to walk to and from there on a daily basis. “Many of our brothers and sisters work in the houses in Hazelwood and they walk because the money they earn is not enough to afford them transport fare. If there is a tavern in the area, their lives will also be in danger because no one knows what people can do when they are drunk,” said Somfiyane.Area resident Ahmed Ghumman said:“It is not that we are objecting to him opening a liquor outlet, just not one in a residential area like that. Moreover, most of the households in the community are headed by women because the husbands work out of town and having a tavern there would threaten their safety.”Chetty advised the community to compile a more inclusive objection for the ongoing hearing against the liquor licence and include all the residents’ grievances with a portfolio of evidence for the claims. Before the meeting was concluded, a task team was elected to drive the community’s plans on Chetty’s advice. Efforts to get comment from the owner of the outlet were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.