Pretoria: Five illegal taverns have been closed down and fined to a total R83 500 in a blitz inspection operation in Polokwane and surrounding areas, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) said on Monday.
The aim of the operation was to enforce compliance with the Liquor Act and to ensure that traders operated within the set regulations as stipulated by their licensing conditions.
Within the three days of the operation, which kicked off on Thursday, 192 operating outlets ranging from bottle stores, taverns, pubs and restaurants to manufacturers and distributors, were inspected.
“Of these establishments, we discovered five taverns were operating without legal licences, and we appropriately closed them down. We also confiscated 8 500 litres of alcohol and issued fines totalling R83 500,” said Director of Legal Support and Prosecutions at the National Liquor Authority (NLA), Advocate Sandile Nkosi.
The most common contravention was traders not complying with what is termed the Liquor Restaurant Licence. This licence permits the trader to sell alcohol and serve food on their premises.
“In most establishments, we would discover that the trader is solely trading in alcohol and not serving any food. Upon further investigation, the trader would plead ignorance and state lack of knowledge as a factor. Of course, all of these would be tactics to justify their transgressions and we know this for a fact as we have it on good authority that provincial liquor inspectors workshop these traders prior to us instituting a blitz operation,” added Nkosi.
The blitz operation targeted traders in and around the Polokwane central business district, Mankweng, Sebayeng, Solomondale and Westernburg, Zebediela and Lebowakgomo.
The Liquor Act of 2003, which is administered by the dti, requires the department to reduce the socio-economic costs of liquor abuse in the country. The act also requires the NLA to promote the development of a responsible and sustainable liquor industry in a manner that inculcates the ethos of social responsibility, among other things.
The three-day blitz inspection began on Thursday with officials from the dti’s NLA, the Limpopo Economic Development Environment and Tourism Department (Ledet), South African Police Services, Department of Home Affairs and the Polokwane Local Municipality carrying out the inspection.