Minister Alan Winde to propose improvements to the Liquor Law
The Western Cape Cabinet yesterday (12 November) granted approval for Minister Alan Winde to introduce in the Provincial Parliament a further amendment to the Liquor Act of 2008.
This amendment to the main Act has been drafted with the aim of further strengthening our role in regulating the liquor industry, particularly in respect of those who flout the law, and of improving our efficiency in respect of licencing by removing bottle-neck restrictions which were imposed on us by the principle act.
The proposed changes to the law include:
- Introducing new grounds for the closure of licensed premises and furthering the provisions for the search, entry and inspection of licensed premises without the requirement of a warrant and the inclusion of peace officers in the enforcement of the Act;
- Repealing the provision that prohibits unlicensed persons from having more than a prescribed quantity of liquor in their possession (150 litres);
- To ensure that a quorum is reached at each Liquor Licencing Tribunal meeting: the amendment of section 16 of the principal Act by making provision for the ad hoc appointment of substitute members; it also extends the ability of the Presiding Officer to delegate any of his or her powers or functions; it further allows for the appointment of up to three Deputy Presiding Officers;
- Amendment to the provisions of the Act dealing with temporary and special events licenses;
- Prohibiting persons under the age of 18 years from being allowed into the restricted areas of premises licensed to sell liquor for consumption on the premises; and
- Simplifying and clarifying the provisions regarding trading days and hours in instances where a municipality has not determined the trading days and hours for the sale of liquor for consumption on and off licensed premises.
Said Winde: “I am particularly eager to see enacted the first two provisions mentioned above.
“In the past, the Liquor Authority has been hampered in conducting its regulatory function by the inability of its staff to conduct searches of licenced premises without the police, or issue fines to transgressors. By enabling our team to undertake these tasks, we can dramatically increase our manpower in tackling irresponsible traders who flout the law.
“I will also be pleased to see the ‘150 litre’ provision abolished. While this section of the law was well-intentioned in that it gave the police powers to detect and move on suspected illegal shebeens, it introduced a level of red tape for others who had no intention of selling their stocks.”
The other changes mentioned will improve the capacity of the Liquor Licencing Tribunal to hear applications and appeals, with the effect that waiting times for those seeking licences and for outcomes on transgressions will be reduced.
“I am confident that amendments proposed by this bill will improve our powers to regulate the legal liquor trade and remove red tape blockages which set back our efficiency.
“Members of the public and of the trade are encouraged to submit their comments on the bill once it has been published by the Provincial Parliament. Through public engagement, we hope to ensure a better set of regulations for the industry, and for those affected by the trade of liquor,” said Winde.
Note: it is the mandate of the South African Police Service to shut down the illegal trade of liquor (unlicenced premises). The Western Cape liquor authorities are mandated by law to only deal with the legal trade (licenced premises).