POLITICS

No Extra Time For Liquor Outlets, Board Concedes

This after an avalanche of criticism following the Gauteng Liquor Board decision to extend trading hours ahead of the ANC's festivities in Johannesburg.

04/01/2017 14:41 SAST | Updated 04/01/2017 15:34 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A patron pours a glass of whisky at a shebeen in Soweto, October 4, 2015.

The Gauteng Liquor Board on Wednesday said it had not granted permission to alcohol-selling venues planning to extend their trading hours to cater for the ANC's 105th anniversary this weekend.

While the discretion to grant the extension of hours does exist, regarding the applications received so far, board chairperson Fhedzisani Pandelani told News 24: "We are not persuaded to relax it by even one minute."

Pandelani said that, while the board had received over a 1 000 applications applying for an extension of their trading hours for the upcoming weekend, all of them were unsuitable.

"None of the applicants have demonstrated that they meet the criteria."

Instead, suggested Pandelani, those applying seemed to be part of "a hype geared towards self-enrichment".

Certain conditions are required for extensions, included providing proof that the venue has liaised with law enforcement officials to ensure patrons are not unruly, as well as indicating the appointment of managers who will oversee responsibility for everything that happens at the venue.

Applicants also need to detail plans of what provisions would be taken to detain and sober up those who are too drunk to drive, and who try to leave the venue.

Furthermore, fire and evacuation plans have to be submitted.

However, Pandelani said applications submitted so far had amounted to little more than "hot air", with some simply submitting a letter, with no proof of conforming to the requirements.

He said each application submitted was examined on a case-by-case basis. However, because the applicants had all failed to meet the criteria, the board was refusing to grant extensions, as an act of "fighting lawlessness".

The move to extend hours has been met criticism.

The ANC Women's League said the anniversary, which was held to reflect on the successes and challenges that faced the ANC the previous year and chart a way forward for the new year, could not be seen as a "drinking spree".

"This tradition was started in 1972 and the ANCWL, as an integral part of the ANC, will not allow this historic event to be viewed as a drinking spree which requires liquor trading hours to be relaxed by liquor boards," the league said in a statement on Wednesday.

However, Gauteng Economic Development MEC Lebogang Mail previously said in a statement that he was satisfied with the temporary relaxing of liquor trading hours.