Communities that live in the Cape Town Central police precinct were called out for being under represented at the first liquor forum meeting of the year, held at the City Hall on Wednesday April 20.
Cape Town Central community police forum chairperson, Marc Truss, said the policing precinct, which includes the city centre, Gardens, Tamboerskloof, District Six, Foreshore and Green Point, had over 800 liquor licences in the area, but there were no representatives at the meeting.
Less than 15 people attended, with the Long Street Association representing most of the public, and security authorities making up the rest of the meeting.
“We have such little representation. Are we doing something wrong that we can’t get representatives from the (liquor) premises to attend?“
He urged the public to let the CPF and the police know what they can do to help get more community representatives to attend public meetings. “We want you to let us know what your challenges are, and we need to help each other.”
The station commander at Cape Town Central police station, Brigadier Marius Stander, said he too, expected more community members to attend.
Addressing the meeting, he said the relationship between security authorities and the liquor trade in the city was a love-hate one, as the police need to keep the area safe for everyone, while the liquor outlets also need to make money and contribute to the economy. “We just need to make sure that everyone stays within the boundaries of the law.”
Police at the meeting reported that liquor trading after hours and outlets staying open until after their trading hours remain a problem.
Most liquor outlets have a licence until 2pm, and a grace period of about 30 minutes where people have time to consume their last drinks, however, this is being taken advantage of.
The designated police officer at Cape Town Central, Captain Tobias du Plessis, said the police will meet with the City of Cape Town in future to discuss the trading hours by-law, so that it can be amended accordingly.
Another concern was people leaving clubs intoxicated, opening them up to becoming victims of crime. “You cannot serve someone too much liquor because a crime is bound to happen afterwards, and they are not in their right mind. People report things they can’t even remember.”
He said urged owners of establishments to take more responsibility for their patrons’ safety, as the police cannot be at all the premises at the same time.
He said while some owners argue that police presence inside the establishment chase patrons away, they should have all the necessary documents displayed in the outlet, so that the police’s visit is a speedy one.
“We also want to be visible in your spaces because a criminal will think twice to pickpocket someone if they see police. We are not there to disrupt your business – we just want to ensure you are compliant.”
He also said security authorities will be checking other security measures, such as lighting outside the clubs, exit signs and fire safety exits, among other regulations.
Ward councillor for the city centre, Ian MacMohan said while he was pro business, he was also pro compliance, and said that all applications for liquor licences and outlets which land up on his desk go through the correct processes and community discussions before it is recommended.
He urged owners to remain compliant, as they do reach out to all role players to check if the establishment is a “problem child”.
Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) representative, Mfundo Galada, addressed the meeting about non-automatic licence renewals. Up to now, liquor licences were automatically renewed every year, however, starting from the licence renewal cycle in 2023, liquor licence holders who have not been compliant will have to apply to get their licence renewed.
All compliance notices and community complaints about an establishment will be recorded and come July 31, ahead of the liquor licence renewal period, the licence holder will be notified if they do not qualify for an automatic licence renewal, and will have to apply to renew it, for the consideration of the liquor tribunal.
“It is advisable that you stick to the rules so that you are not in trouble when we come for an inspection or when it comes to renewal.”
The WCLA will have a roadshow during the year to further discuss the new act, said Mr Galada, however, anyone with questions can contact firstname.lastname@example.org