Authorities crack down on illegal Mpumalanga alcohol traders

Authorities crack down on illegal Mpumalanga alcohol traders

A number of illegal liquor outlets in Mpumalanga have been closed down and numerous fines issued, the trade and industry department (dti) said on Sunday.

Authorities crack down on illegal Mpumalanga alcohol traders
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National and provincial liquor authorities cracked down on illegal alcohol traders over the weekend during an inspection blitz that started on Thursday by officials from the dti, SA Police Service (SAPS), Mpumalanga Liquor Authority, and home affairs department, the dti said in a statement.

“The operation visited 33 outlets, closed down 14, issued 24 compliance notices, and fines to the value of R31,500 to non-compliant license holders.

“The outlets, ranging from taverns, restaurants, distributors, and manufacturers, were raided in Witbank, Ackerville, Vosman, Lynnville, Tasbet, Middleburg, and Mhluzi,” it said.

The inspection blitz was meant to address the increasing problem of underage drinking, non-adherence to license conditions, trading hours, and to enforce compliance among liquor traders, dti National Liquor Authority (NLA) director of legal support and prosecutions Sandile Nkosi said in the statement.

“The majority of outlets that were targeted failed to adhere to the [Liquor] Act and regulations and were issued with compliance fines for various transgressions. These included clients drinking outside permitted areas, failure to produce relevant documents as prescribed by law, supplying liquor to already intoxicated persons, selling liquor to minors, and leasing of licenses,” said Nkosi

There was a growing trend in leasing licenses from original owners to tenants and in most cases the latter acted in violation of the law. There was a need to make it an offence for the license holder to hire it out so that irresponsible trading could be curbed, he said.

Some outlets were also running illegal online gambling operations disguised as internet cafes on the same premises without fear of being caught. One gambling spot was closed down during the inspection blitz in Witbank.

SAPS Mpumalanga liquor control commander Lt-Col Carling Monashane stressed the importance of an integrated approach by all stakeholders in curbing alcohol-related crimes in the areas visited.

Such operations assisted in terms of reducing alcohol-related crimes, minimising negative effects, and getting feedback from outlets and the community, he said.

Mpumalanga Liquor Authority provincial compliance manager Elijah Mamba said most outlets were closed down due to their failure to adhere to their licensing conditions.

“In terms of sections 45 (1) of the Mpumalanga Liquor Licensing Act 2006, if the license holder is the company, the company needs to appoint a manager which is a natural person in a prescribed manner and form. Hence today we are enforcing and educating at the same time,” said Mamba.

Common contraventions were failure to appoint a manager, failure to display the original license, making structural alterations without prior approval of the board, trading beyond stipulated trading hours, selling for takeaway while in possession of an on-consumption license, and selling liquor to minors.

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