Kwazulu-Natal authorities met with liquor traders in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, to discuss issues of safety and compliance ahead of the festive season. Third-quarter crime statistics showed that contact crime and rape remain high in the province. Police say these crimes are often associated with the consumption of alcohol.
With the festive season around the corner and schools about to close for the holidays, the KZN Liquor Board has joined forces with the South African Police to promote community safety and responsible drinking.
Liquor traders from various parts of the province voiced their grievances over the liquor license regulations. They say most of the crimes mentioned such as assault and rape are committed outside their establishments. Liquor traders have asked authorities to review some of the requirements imposed on them.
“We do turn them away but they are stubborn. Some we ask them why you’re using NSFAS cards and their facial expressions change. They become angry and you end up fearing for your own safety,” a liquor trader said.
“Why aren’t you fighting drugs? Why are you coming down hard on us licensed liquor traders? Even the closing time a person leaving my establishment at midnight will not be safe and I’ll end up being blamed for it but it happened outside my place,” another liquor trader elaborates.
Authorities have raised concerns about the high levels of illegal trading and underage drinking. The KZN Liquor Board has issued over 7 000 licenses to traders.
“I think the most important thing for today’s engagement was to remind them of what is expected of them in terms of the conditions of their license with regards to the trading hours. It’s important that they open and they close in accordance with the conditions of their licenses but of course the issue of security is very important that they ensure that they implement security measures that they would have committed to when they applied for liquor licenses,” says Bheki Mbanjwa of the KZN liquor authority.
Police in the province say additional officers will be deployed this festive season to curb crime in hotspot areas.
“As much as we talk about contact crime and murders and rape and the likes but when we take the total of all 17 reported crimes that we record when we present our crime stats every quarter. The biggest are the crimes of assault not necessarily murder and these assaults, the majority of them are happening in these liquor places,” says KZN Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.
Authorities are examining ways to regulate the purchase of alcohol in bulk to control the increase of illegal liquor traders.
Video: KZN Police Commissioner to meet Amanzimtoti liquor traders