WATCH | East London beach pub Buccaneers probed after video shows maskless patrons partying

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  • A video showing a massive party at popular East London pub Buccaneers with patrons dancing without masks or social distancing has gone viral.
  • The Eastern Cape Liquor Board is looking into the incident.
  • Buccaneers management said it was an old video, but it had no idea how old it was, adding that it was still investigating.

A shocking video showing a massive party at popular East London pub Buccaneers, with patrons dancing in close proximity without masks or social distancing has gone viral, raising the ire of local authorities.

Liquor licencing authority, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, has launched an investigation into the incident, while the Buffalo City Metro has urged businesses to put lives before profits.

In the video, scores of revellers can be seen dancing while the DJ can be seen shaking the hand of a patron.

News24 first came across the video on Thursday.

Handshaking is frowned upon as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Buffalo City Metro has described the video as disturbing and has called on businesses to act responsibly in the wake of the resumption of alcohol sales.

'Lives before profits'

Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said businesses should put lives ahead of profits.

Ngwenya added:

We are calling on all businesses in Buffalo City to respect the law. We are also calling on liquor licence regulators to take action against businesses that are breaking the law as they are in breach of their licence conditions.

Ngwenya said the Buffalo City Coronavirus Command Council will be meeting on Monday to receive reports from workstreams operating in the fight against the virus, including the health and safety directorate.

According to the adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, indoor gatherings may not exceed 50% of the venue capacity and patrons are expected to practise safety protocols like sanitising, checking of body temperatures, wearing of masks and social distancing.

"We are also encouraged by businesses and churches that are being exemplary by [implementing] the regulations," Ngwenya said.

Eastern Cape Liquor Board spokesperson Mgwebi Msiya said the entity had launched an investigation into allegations of breach of Covid-19 health protocols.

"We are extremely disturbed by the behaviour as depicted on the video and do wish to send out a stern warning to liquor traders who disregard the regulations that we will act drastically and may ultimately revoke the licence.

"We are currently speaking to the liquor industry, requesting them not to sell or supply liquor outlets that have been found to have breached the regulations. We also wish to remind all liquor traders that if they continue to disregard Covid-19 regulations, they may force government to again ban the sale of alcohol.

"So it is important that they all take responsibility and ensure that their establishments strictly comply with the regulations in order to prevent the rapid spread of Covid-19. Our inspectors are also intensifying their monitoring and enforcement campaign throughout the province to ensure that this abhorrent behaviour is eliminated."

Video not from the weekend

Buccaneers manager Gerald Goddard said the incident shown in the video was not from the weekend, as was claimed on social media.

Asked how old the video was, Goddard said: "We are still trying to find out from when, but we started dealing with it on Wednesday already when someone posted it. It didn't happen on the weekend. We don't know when it happened."

Should the popular beach pub be found guilty, Msiya said it would be served with a compliance notice.

"The compliance notice serves as a warning, stating clearly what steps will be taken by us should they be found guilty of non-compliance again."

News24 can confirm that Goddard was arrested on Saturday on a charge of contravening the Disaster Management Act 1 of 2021 (1) Section 34 (7) Level 3 after he allegedly allowed more than 50 patrons inside his pub.

A police report of the incident, leaked to News24 by police sources, revealed that Goddard admitted to a Lieutenant-Colonel Rautenbach and a Captain Louw during questioning that more than 50 patrons were in his pub.

The incident report further stated that Goddard told Rautenbach and Louw that the footage was old and that when the police officers asked him to show them the footage, he refused.

They said: 

When asked about the video, he told us that it was an old video. We then requested him to show us the video footage of Saturday night. He first refused, stating that he was fearing incriminating himself. Mr Goddard later admitted that he deleted the video footage on purpose. Mr Goddard admitted that there was more than 50 people inside the building.

Goddard will appear in court on 23 March. News24 made several attempts to reach Goddard for comment on the arrest. His comment will be added once received.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo City Metro confirmed the arrest and fine imposed on Goddard's establishment.

"We welcome the actions of the South African Police Service who acted swiftly when the video showing the [contravention of] the Disaster Management Act surfaced over the weekend. We hope that this will send a strong message to businesses across the City that non-compliance will not be tolerated," Ngwenya said.

As of Sunday, 7 February, 2 299 people have died in the metro from Covid-19. There are currently 217 active cases in the region.

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