The Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Lebogang Maile says that going forward compliance inspectors for liquor traders will be as equally strict in suburban areas as they plan to be in townships, so as to challenge the assumption that illegal liquor outlets are only township based.
According to the Maile an estimated 12 000 illegal liquor traders exist in Gauteng province alone.
He told CapeTalk/702’s Redi Tlhabi that the Liquor Board may grant or deny an operating liquor license to those applying to trade within 500m radius of places of worship and educational institutions or another liquor outlet.
Legislation goes further to say that the board must endeavor to limit the negative impact of liquor outlets in residential areas.
Illegal liquor outlets
Maile says there have been several reports of outlets serving children in school uniforms, children attending classes intoxicated and other pupils leaving school premises during learning hours to purchase alcohol.
In an effort to reduce these cases, the Liquor Act is putting liquor outlets near educational institutions under the microscope. However, Maile told Redi Tlhabi that there was no conclusive research to say that pupils in close proximity to liquor traders may consume or abuse alcohol more.
Nonetheless, the hours of trading for those outlets will be closely inspected, in addition to those operating next to places of worship.
I think there has been consensus the we need to respect churches as places of worship, and hence we are saying that those liquor outlets next to churches must be allowed to operate but within certain hours.
Working closely with all stakeholders
Maile advises that in the cases of schools and churches that emerge after long established liquor traders, there would be negotiations involving all those concerned such as school governing bodies and other community members.
He said that in terms of the illegal traders, the first step in the regulatory process is assisting them to acquire trading permits, although ultimately the Liquor Board holds the prerogative to approve or deny applications.
Linda Madida, President of the Gauteng Liquor Forum called to say that he and his members fully support the measures taken by government. Madida added that they are willing to work with the Liquor Act and had previously made submissions to the bill. He says that it is important for legislation to negotiate with traders and not leave them unemployed.
Maile says that his department is working well with the associations and urges other traders to joined associations as it makes co-ordination and negotiations easier and more effective.
Listen to the full conversation on the Redi Tlhabi Show below: