A licenced bottle store faces a possible fine of up to R500 000 for allegedly selling alcohol to illegal shebeens.
The Western Cape Liquor Authority this week conducted a joint search and seizure operation with police at a bottle store in the West Coast town of Saldanha Bay. It was the Authority's first search and seizure under the new Liquor Act.
"Based on an initial investigation, the Liquor Authority had good reason to suspect that the liquor outlet in question was making deliveries to illegal shebeens. The Authority applied for a warrant and executed a search and seizure operation in conjunction with the police," said Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism.
"The gathered evidence, which includes the delivery books of the store, will be analysed thoroughly. If the allegations are proven true, the Authority will motivate for the harshest possible penalty, including a fine of up to R500 000 and the revoking of this outlet's liquor licence."
The primary charge levelled against the licence holder is selling alcohol to customers knowing or having reasonable grounds to suspect that these people will resell the liquor without a licence. This is an offence as stipulated in the Western Cape Liquor Act.
Minister Winde said the Act took a hard line against licenced suppliers who were fuelling the illegal trade: "There are more than 300 alcohol-related deaths in the Western Cape each month and this harm is driven by illegal shebeens. We are determined to eradicate irresponsible liquor distribution and sales and encourage residents to work with us to bring irresponsible suppliers and traders to book," said Minister Winde.
Thys Giliomee, Chief Executive Officer of the Liquor Authority, issued a stern warning to the industry: "Legal traders who break the law by selling to illegals will be caught."
"Similar operations will follow in the near future. The Authority is serious about clamping down on licenced premises who supply to illegal liquor traders," said Giliomee.