WCLA Update: Minister Fritz supports call for lifting of ban on sale of alcohol
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, echoes Premier Alan Winde’s call to relax the restrictions placed on the liquor industry, noting the severe economic pressure being experienced and the impact that this will have on job creation.
Minister Fritz noted that it is no easy task managing the lives and livelihoods of residents in the Western Cape. “As we move out of our second peak, we need to make sure we prevent major job losses in our economy and get the balance right in saving both lives and livelihoods.”
Minister Fritz said, “I support Premier’s letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and President Ramaphosa to urgently request that alcohol sales be permitted offsite from Monday to Thursday, and not permitted on the weekend. Further, that alcohol sales be permitted at wine farms on the weekend. These allowances are crucial for the survival of our small businesses which are also liquor license holders, particularly as we are facing a protracted economic climate.”
Western Cape Liquor Authority update
At the same time, Minister Fritz wishes to commend the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) on their efforts to reduce alcohol related harms between 27 March 2020 and 22 January 2021.
Minister Fritz said, “South Africans have a deadly relationship with alcohol. As a Department we continuously monitor the reported homicides, and our reports have shown us that where there is a ban on alcohol, homicides decrease significantly. However, it is simply not possible to ban alcohol indefinitely as the liquor industry employs too many people and supports too many households for it to be shut down.”
Minister Fritz said, “At the same time, our amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act are fully underway where we are driving a differentiated pricing model, reviewing licensing fees, measures to prevent sale to under rage person and other necessary smart interventions. At present, the proposed amendments are being subjected to a Significance Test which is to determine whether the proposed amendments are of such a nature that a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) needs to be done. A RIA is a tool to test the practicality and feasibility of the proposed amendments, the risks to be addressed by the proposed amendments and the options for delivering the objectives.”
Between 27 March to date, the WCLA have conducted 354 investigations into liquor license holders who have contravened the Western Cape Liquor Act and the National Disaster Management Act’s Regulations.
Of the 354 investigations, 96 section 71 matters were placed on the Liquor Licensing Tribunal’s (LLT) case roll, of which:
- 54 licences were suspended;
- 23 applications were dismissed;
- 17 applications were referred to the Prosecutor;
- 1 application was withdrawn; and
- 1 application is pending.
Of the 54 licences that were suspended, 54 section 71(4) return hearings took place, in which:
- 1 licence was revoked after finalisation of a section 20 consideration;
- 50 suspensions were lifted by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal;
- 1 suspension was confirmed, and the licence remains suspended; and
- 2 suspensions were lifted: 1 in the High Court and 1 as part of internal Appeal Tribunal proceedings.
In total, 78 COVID-19 related section 20 matters were forwarded to the LLT, of which:
- 3 licences were revoked;
- 5 applications dismissed;
- In 4 matters the licensee was issued with stricter conditions;
- 6 licences were suspended;
- 1 licence was cancelled;
- 1 application was referred back to the Prosecutor; and
- 29 matters are currently pending.
Minister Fritz said, “In 29 matters fines to the amount of R2.683 million were issued, of which an amount of R1.471 million was suspended for a period of 24 months on condition that the licence holder does not contravene the Act and licence conditions again during this period.”