Crack down on illegal liquor trading

Officials confiscated 1 232 litres of liquor and destroyed 1 454 litres of homemade concoctions.

A total of 25 illegal shebeens operating in Mangaung have been shut down. The National Liquor Authority (NLA) of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) in a joint operation with the Free State Liquor Board, the South African Police Service and the Department of Basic Education, conducted a blitz inspection in Bloemfontein.
Taverns, restaurants, distributors and manufacturers in Bloemspruit, Kagisanong, Kopanong, Heidedal, Botshabelo, Mothishe, Khayelitsha and Boithuso were raided. Out of 28 liquor traders that were inspected, seven were issued with non-compliance notices. Officials confiscated
1 232 litres of liquor and destroyed 1 454 litres of homemade concoctions.
The NLA also held a liquor abuse education session at Petunia High School in Heidedal and Mabolela Primary School in Kagisanong. Deputy Director at the NLA, Dirk Aspeling, says that liquor outlets are sometimes in close proximity to schools, making it easier for learners to access alcohol. He says they targeted these schools to educate them on the impact of alcohol abuse.
Aspeling says provincial by-laws often create problems in the liquor trading industry if they contradict the norms and standards set by the NLA. “In certain provinces the by-laws create problems for certain liquor outlets, especially for those having a dual licence, which means those with a distribution certificate as well as a retail certificate,” he says.
The norms and standards of the NLA state that the distribution hours should be set during a certain time period, but often provincial by-laws set their own hours. “For instance, if they are allowed to operate from 9:00 till 18:00, it means that after 18:00 they cannot operate. This is where the problem lies, illegal liquor outlets do not adhere to the set time frames and it creates problems for us if the by-laws of certain areas extend those hours,” he explains.
The Free State Liquor Board says it is are aware of illegal taverns that have been mushrooming in the Mangaung area, as well as the increasing levels of alcohol abuse among people. They encourage illegal liquor traders to contact them and enquire about the process of getting a liquor licence to avoid getting in trouble with the law.
The South African Police Services say they constantly receive continuous reports that young people from the Free State Province are increasingly falling prey to alcohol and substance abuse. They acknowledge that alcohol abuse is a contributing factor to social ills experienced in the country, and therefore encourage communities to work with them in identifying such instances.
Several arrests were made during the raid, including those for a variety of crimes such as drinking in public, possession of dangerous weapons, possession of dagga and possession of an illegal firearm. The NLA says they will continue to conduct blitz operations to ensure that liquor trading in the country is adhering to the law. – Seithati Semenokane