Forum threatens to take ban of alcohol sales to Constitutional Court

Cape Town Metro Police officers confiscated alcohol in Dunoon during lockdown enforcement operations.
Cape Town Metro Police officers confiscated alcohol in Dunoon during lockdown enforcement operations.

The Forum, which represents 20,000 tavern and shebeen owners, said the extension of the lockdown from the initial 21-day period to the end of April will "most likely ruin" businesses of its members.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of the lockdown on Thursday by another two weeks, saying preliminary evidence showed that keeping people at home slowed the spread of the virus to around 4% new infections a day compared to over 42% before the lockdown. 

"We are not against the lockdown. We’ve been supportive of everything that the President has initiated and we fully agree that he should have taken measures to slow down the spread of the virus,” said the forum's spokesperson, Thabo Modise. 

"But, our members were never even considered in any relief that has been spoken about to help small businesses."

 The forum wrote a letter to the President threatening the court action on Saturday.

 Modise said shebeen and tavern owners are not registered under the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission but get their licenses from the Gauteng Liquor Board instead, and as such are not recognised under the relief given to small business owners. 

At the time of publication, FIN24 wasn’t able to get comment from the Ministry of Small Business as well as Police. 

Representing the forum, Eric Mabuza of Mabuza Attorneys said alcohol traders in the township are not getting the relief because either their taxes are not in order or the requirements to get the relief are too stringent.

"Even in times of crisis, we must reflect and be sober about how we deal with issues," he said, adding that if the government had consulted with the industry before instituting the ban, the issue of relief would have come to light and perhaps a special scheme put in place.

Restrict sale of alcohol instead of a complete ban

Mabuza said less restrictive measures that the industry would welcome include restricted trading hours, limiting sale quantities and even prohibition of on-site consumption where people buy and drink at home. 

"Just like people go out every day to buy groceries, people can go out to buy alcohol to take home on limited quantities and specified types," he said.


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