A possible threat of another ban on the sale of booze, due to “a few rotten apples” within the liquor industry, was far-fetched and not feasible, given government’s determination to reopen the country’s battered economy, according to South African Liquor Traders’ Association convenor of the Association Lucky Ntimane.
While Ntimane yesterday said he was enraged by “a few rotten apples among us” – some taverns, shebeens and other liquor selling outlets, who this week failed to comply with lockdown Level I regulations – he said opening up of the liquor industry economy, job creation and livelihood, far outweighed chances of yet another government clampdown.
“You are talking about 10 noncompliant businesses displaying tendencies which pose a threat to many complaint liquor outlets,” said Ntimane.
His comments followed concerns expressed this week by Police Minister Bheki Cele, who informed Ntimane about nonadherence to lockdown regulations by some liquor outlets.
Cele, who warned that government would intensify law-enforcement under Level 1, said more than
300 000 people have been arrested and charged for violating lockdown regulations countrywide since March.
The sale of alcohol is only permitted from Monday to Friday (from 9am to 5pm), excluding, weekends and public holidays.
Consumption of alcohol onsite in bars, taverns and restaurants is permitted up to midnight.
The night club industry remained banned, with overnight curfew in force from midnight until 4am. Ntimane said: “I have had a conversation with Minister Cele on the phone and I understand his concerns. “Among our industry, we have some rogue elements, which is a small fraction. I have followed up on what he pointed out about a noncompliant tavern in Thokoza.
“Here, you are dealing with liquor outlets that have not been compliant, even before the lockdown began.
“We want the law to take its course. Liquor boards can then confiscate their licences for breaking the law. For disrespecting the laws of the country, they have to face the full might of the law with consequences, which include losing licences to trade.
“Level 1 does not mean the coronavirus has gone,” said Ntimane.
– The Citizen