Communities are alarmed by the massive number of liquor outlets and shebeen’s opening up in their respective areas, raising concerns about that the influx may result in an increase in crime. This has led many to question the procedures followed the Western Cape Liquor Authority, in the issuance of liquor licenses to these stores.
However, the department’s deputy director in advocacy and stakeholder relations, Phillip Prinsloo, said many of those outlets currently in the communities, were granted licenses under the old national liquor act.
He noted that any applications under the current act would take into account various issues and criteria. This included the suitability of the applicant to conduct the sale of liquor, the appropriateness of the location where it would be sold, and the public interest to the sale of liquor in the area.
“The public have an opportunity, when there is a new application under the new legislation, where they can raise their objections,” he said.
However, Prinsloo said they were facing a challenge at present, where the objections being submitted were extremely vague about the respective communities concerns. He said the Liquor Authority was receiving numerous community petitions with one-liners, simply stating that they did not want any liquor outlets in the area.
“What we are trying to do now is have a program where we go out to the communities, and explain to them how to raise objections. When you raise objections, you cannot be vague about the issue. It must be factual and based on specific concerns,” he said.
He urged those seeking to oppose the issuance of a license, to include concerns such as the number of outlets already in the area, the crime statistics in the area, and lack of sufficient parking space outside the proposed liquor outlet, amongst others.
“We will take these objections, and give an opportunity to the applicant to respond to them,” he said.
He added that should they receive an overwhelming number of objections towards a specific applicant, they would likely conduct a hearing in front of a liquor licensing tribunal.
In many areas across the city, residents have expressed concern that liquor licenses are being granted to outlets near religious houses like churches, and mosques. Prinsloo noted that the liquor act did not specifically state how far away the outlet needed to be from a religious institute, but rather that it should not be a nuisance to those places.
“We also give an opportunity for the churches, and old age homes to raise objections during the application process. But I think the challenge is, a lot of people, when the process is taking place, don’t raise objections and after it has been granted, they come to the authority,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)