Media Release: No Evidence of Action against Illegal Shebeens
No Evidence of Action against Illegal Shebeens: Cele’s Instruction to SAPS Falls Flat
Last Friday, Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, called on SAPS to shut down illegal shebeens in the Western Cape within 48 hours. Four days later, we have seen no evidence of any action in this regard.
Minister Winde said: “In the first place, this call was completely unrealistic, and pure politicking. It also shows Cele’s complete lack of understanding of the scale of the problem. This is not surprising since the national minister sits in Pretoria, far away from the problems faced by Western Cape residents.
It is estimated that in the Western Cape alone, there could be up to 25 000 illegal shebeens. Illegal operators act outside of the law, and the only body which can shut them down is the SAPS. Cele lost the battle against illegal shebeens long ago, which have been allowed to bourgeon unhindered for over a decade. Cele is a sleeping beauty who seems to have woken up one month before the election.”
Even though we do not have a mandate over illegal operations, the Western Cape Government has taken action. Through our Alcohol Harms Reduction (AHR) Game Changer pilots, we have been at the forefront of attempts to address the issue of illegal trading and associated alcohol harms.
In particular, we have sought to ensure improved rule of law in the liquor trade in a number of pilot areas. In two of our target areas, Khayelitsha Sector 4/Town 2 and Drakenstein municipality, we are encouraging more outlets to legalise, so that their actions fall inside the law. We are also focusing on disrupting the relationship that exists between illegal and legal liquor outlets, where the latter distributes to the former.
Key to this has been strengthening the capacity of the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) to enforce compliance amongst legal traders, as well as substantially increasing fine amounts for transgressions.
Said Winde: “The new regulations we passed under the Western Cape Liquor Act compel WCLA inspectors to issue notices of non-compliance to outlets. The fine amount has also increased to R100 000. To beef up enforcement, more liquor inspectors have been appointed and their powers have been enhanced.
“This has led to a 70% increase in WCLA revenue which we are ploughing back into alcohol harms reduction interventions, and a 188% increase in fines in Khayelitsha Town 2 and surrounds, parts of Nyanga and Gugulethu (Gunya). Liquor outlet compliance in Khayelitsha has also improved from 64% in quarter 1, 2018 to 94% in quarter 3, 2018.”
In the Khayelitsha sector, we have also added our own law enforcement officers, with additional security cameras to compliment the strategy for improved safety and rule of law.
“While we are working on achieving greater compliance amongst legal operators, we require SAPS to do their jobs by clamping down on illegal outlets. Minister Cele’s populist call has predictably yielded no effect. We need more policing resources, visible policing, and a commitment by SAPS to work together with the WCLA, City of Cape Town law enforcement and the National Prosecuting Authority to root out illegal activity, and consistently enforce the laws on liquor trading,” said Winde.
The WCLA, along with officials in the Department of Community Safety, will today be meeting with the Western Cape Liquor Traders Organisation, in an effort to address concerns which they raised in a memorandum handed over to Minister Winde on 22 March.
Minister Winde said: “We will continue to pursue the legalisation strategy, where the objective is to normalise the liquor trade by assisting responsible outlets to obtain a liquor licence. We also need to break the illegal supply relationships that exists between illegal outlets and legal traders and distributors of liquor.”