I note the posts on social media about the planned protest action by a group called United Liquor Traders, which is trying to make politics out of liquor laws.
This planned action is unfortunate and quite frankly misplaced. As part of our commitment to regulate liquor effectively while reducing red tape and making the lives of traders easier, the Western Cape Liqour Authority (WCLA), for their 2023 licence renewal cycle has implemented provisions for automatic and non-automatic licence renewals.
Practically, it means that only those licence holders who have been reported to be non-compliant would have to apply to renew their licence, while compliant licence holders can have their renewals done automatically. The purpose of this approach is to incentivise compliance throughout the year and compel errant licence holders to get in line and trade responsibly.
Pursuant to the licence renewal cycle, 116 out of 8 988 traders were found to be non-compliant during the period under review. These licensed premises are located across the province. The details of the 116 traders are available on the WCLA website: https://www.wcla.gov.za/official_notices
The list was published with a call for comments from members of the public in the local areas surrounding the licenced premises. This will help to ensure that public interest is taken into consideration in the review of renewal applications. Communities across the Western Cape have called on the WCLA to help reduce the harms associated with alcohol and non-compliant liquor trading in their neighbourhoods.
In fact, the 1st quarter crime statistics of the 2022/23 financial year in the Western Cape shows that 468 grievous bodily harm cases that were recorded were directly linked to alcohol, while 170 rapes and 16 murders occurred.
Safety and wellbeing are priorities for the Western Cape Government (WCG), and with 70% of the licences on the list being in priority areas as identified in the Safety Plan of the WCG, we cannot have traders being non-compliant. These areas include Atlantis, Beaufort West, Delft, George, Grabouw, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Malmesbury, Mfuleni, Nyanga and Philippi.
As all 116 licensees were served a section 64 notice by 31 July 2022, they have until 30 September 2022 to lodge an application for the renewal of their licence and pay the prescribed application fee. I urge these traders to follow due process, as we want to see their businesses thriving, so that they are able to create further job opportunities.
The objective of the WCLA is not to reduce or close licensed premises. In fact, training is provided to licence holders, applicants and managers at no cost. Information and step-by-step guides are provided to business owners and industry formalisation programmes. Liquor inspectors provide information on how to comply during their inspections. There is also a system of issuing a compliance notice first, such as a warning before progressing to submitting reports for prosecution.
Responsible trading plays a big role in combatting crime and ensuring safer communities. We do not want tragedies that occurred in other parts of the country to be repeated in the Western Cape. I call on this group of disgruntled traders to comply and operate within the confines of the law for the sake of the safety of our communities.