State: Only one way to close shebeen

2012-03-08 19:23

Johannesburg - Confiscating a couple's house in Athlone was the only way of shutting down a shebeen, the Constitutional Court heard on Thursday.

The shebeen had neighbours and police at the end of their tether, Geoff Budlender, for the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), told the court.

"The applicants laughed in the face of the police and the justice system," he said.

The occupants would pay a fine and go straight back to business because they weren't just some "hole in the wall" making a little bit of money.

‘Instrument’ of organised crime

They were making a lot of money, Budlender said.

The matter involves an Athlone, Cape Town, family whose house was forfeited to the State in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The family is applying for leave to appeal against the forfeiture order that was granted by the Western Cape High Court.

That court considered the house an "instrument" of organised crime.

Budlender said on Thursday liquor was found in so many rooms of the house that it was difficult to decide if the property was a shebeen used as a home, or a home used as a shebeen.

The couple had been arrested more than 60 times, not just the 52 stated by their lawyers, and a neighbour had repeatedly written "painful" letters complaining of the disturbances caused in the street by the shebeen.

Preservation order

The police resources directed to that house was no longer justifiable given the other policing obligations the police have in that community.

Even when the first step - a preservation order - was issued against their home, trading still carried on, Budlender continued.

The applicants believe that the forfeiture was not proportionate to their crime, and that the rights of their children to shelter was not considered.

Budlender rejected this, saying the couple previously stated that they had enough money to pay the bond on their home, so they should then be able to pay rent.

The NDPP did not agree that the couple should be allowed to "piggy back" on the rights of their children, stay in the house to continue their unlawful activities.

The NDPP would however, accept any guidance from the court.

  • Cracker - 2012-03-08 19:29

    What nonsense to hide behind children for your crimes? You are the cause of the consequences. Live with it. And why must a parent be treated less severely than a non-parent where it comes to sentencing?

  • Simnikiwe - 2012-03-08 19:36

    Castrate that shebeen!

  • Lacrimose - 2012-03-08 20:05

    From the related (earlier) story "52 operations, 15 led to criminal cases being opened, and of those, there were nine convictions with suspended sentences and fines". First of all it just goes to show how lenient our judicial system is - crime does pay. Secondly, given this astounding history of complete disregard for the law, giving them their house back will just ensure that before long they'll be at it again. Thirdly, I hope SARS is also going to pursue them for their undeclared income.

  • eben.ferreira1 - 2012-03-08 20:09

    Good Move

  • ndabaq - 2012-03-09 20:47

    Way to go for deterrence! Nobody will ever gamble and sell liquor from his/her house and that way illegal liquor trading will be a thing of the past.

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