Western Cape residents urged to drink responsibly as booze ban is lifted

Cape Town – Following the unbanning of alcohol under lockdown level 2, Western Cape Community Safety MEC, Albert Fritz, has urged residents to drink responsibly.

Fritz said that the unbanning of the sale of alcohol is a ’welcomed step’ in restoring the economy.

“The alcohol ban has further had a significant impact on the WCLA’s revenue stream as it has been unable to grant or renew licenses during this time. The unbanning of the sale of alcohol will allow us to again open our economy and resume business as usual.”

Fritz added: “While the resumption of the sale of alcohol today is a positive step in supporting liquor license holders, I call on residents to drink responsibly.

“We know that there are numerous harms associated with the abuse of alcohol. Residents, who are over the age of 18, may legally drink but have a responsibility to not abuse or misuse alcohol,” he said

The MEC also said that to date, the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) has investigated 117 contraventions of the National Disaster Risk Management Act Regulations and has suspended 38 licenses in its efforts to reduce alcohol related harms.

Of the 117 investigations, 48 section 71 matters were placed on the Liquor Licensing Tribunal’s (LLT) case roll, of which:

  • 38 licences were suspended;
  • 8 applications were dismissed; and
  • 2 applications are pending.

Of the 38 licences that were suspended, 33 section 71(4) return hearings as well as further section 20 considerations on 13 of these matters, took place, of which:

  • One licence was revoked after finalisation of a section 20 consideration;
  • 30 suspensions were lifted by the LLT;
  • Two suspensions were lifted by other means including one in the Western Cape High Court and one as part of internal Appeal Tribunal proceedings; and
  • Five return hearings are pending.

“The licenses were suspended in terms of section 71 of the Western Cape Liquor Act (the Act) which means that the WCLA may suspend a license on an interim and urgent basis where there is an imminent threat to the health, wellbeing or safety of the public,” the MEC said.

“Moving forward, those liquor license holders who remain non-compliant in terms of section 20 of the Act will be investigated and may eligible for a fine of up to R115 000 or have their license revoked.”

Fritz said: “It is important to note that of the 38 licences that were suspended initially, a total of 32 suspensions have been uplifted, 30 were uplifted by the LLT as they are no longer deemed an imminent threat to the health, wellbeing or safety of the public.

“However, where there is evidence that the Act was contravened, these matters will be returned to the LLT. A further two suspensions were uplifted by means of the WC High Court and Appeal Tribunal.”

Fritz said that liquor license holders such, as restaurants and bars, have struggled to stay afloat as result of the lockdown with some forced to shut their doors.

He added that he does support Premier Alan Winde’s call for a smart approach on the sale of alcohol.

“As a Department, we are continuing to drive the process of amending the Western Cape Liquor Act (the Act) to better reduce and prevent alcohol related harms.”

Cape Argus

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