For immediate release
EC LIQUOR BOARD reacts to May 18 media report
In response to Friday’s (May 18) story in the Daily Dispatch, Eastern Cape Liquor Board CEO Gonza Mati says while it is the Board’s duty to control how liquor is sold in the Province, the Liquor Act gives power to the community to raise objections when an application for a liquor licence is lodged with the Eastern Cape Liquor Board.
“In terms of the current Act everyone that applies for a liquor licence has to be given a fair chance of getting one,” said Mati.
“To limit the number of liquor establishments however, the Liquor Act has a very strong community focus – there has to be extensive consultations with the community before a licence is granted. “
“This is done with the potential tavern owner first approaching the ward councillor in the area to meet with the community to see if they are in favour of the establishment,” explains Mati.
He said the ECLB relied on the community to voice their objections when the tavern owner lodges their application for a licence. “It is only if there are no valid objections and if they meet all the other requirements that we would then go ahead and issue a licence.”
“Nowhere in the Liquor Act does it state the maximum number of liquor trading sites that can exist in any one area.
“In line with a request from the DEDEAT MEC, we sit on a committee that is currently reviewing the Liquor Act with a view to having more effective regulatory powers,” he said.
“In our last financial year we received 3 040 applications for liquor licences, of these 1 559 were approved and 1396 were refused. The rest had queries and were further investigated. This demonstrates that we don’t issue licences indiscriminately, we control the process of licensing,” says Mati.
“Even after a licence has been issued, should the community object to the way the liquor establishment is trading they can let us know – they can call the nearest police station, one of the ECLBs district offices, or even our head office in East London,” says Mati.
“We welcome communication from the community if those granted liquor trading licences are misbehaving – it can even be done anonymously.”
Mati went on to say that 465 illegal traders were identified and prosecuted in the previous year.
“We conduct regular blitzes – over 100 planned and unplanned operations in the last financial year alone – to tackle this. But we need the support of both the community and the justice cluster if we are to succeed in stamping out illegal traders.”
Even when caught, the fines meted out do not serve as a deterrent.
“To combat alcohol abuse we have an active social responsibility campaign. We conduct school-based campaigns where we talk about the perils of alcohol and how it affects young minds, we take our anti-alcohol abuse message to clinics to make pregnant women aware of the dangers of alcohol to the foetus.
“Last year we conducted mass campaigns in four districts Mthatha, Queenstown Mdantsane and Motherwell – to afford communities a platform for their issues with regards to alcohol abuse.
“We are also presently conducting research into the socio-economic impact of alcohol in the Eastern Cape with a view to ensuring that the little resources we do have to combat alcohol abuse are invested in the right areas,” he said.
Issued by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board
For more information please contact: Nandipa Sondati, senior marketing and communications officer, 043 700 0900 and cell no: 0780198980