Greetings of the festive season to all. We thank God for allowing us to witness the beginning of 2017. Our prayers are with the families who lost their beloved ones. It’s just unfortunate that we tend to lose our beloved ones during these holidays when instead we are supposed to rejoice and be merry. As Salta, we also lost some of our members through natural causes and we say dudu to all affected families.
On 23 November we had a very successful closing party hosted by our Alexandra branch, though it was a very challenging month since most branches were having their own closing events.
This year is going to be a very challenging one for us as liquor traders. The first issue that comes to mind is the unilateral increment of annual fees for our tavern and bottle store license holders by the liquore board. The board decided to implement the increase despite our objections. We know that most of our members will not be able to pay the R5000 fee. Recall that initially the annual fee was R100, which later increased to R2500. Now the board has decided to increase the fee by 100%.
"This year is going to be a very challenging one for us as liquor traders" says Mish Hlophe, SALTA Acting President.
The board justified the increase by saying that it was necessary to meet their socio-economic commitments and that Gauteng was paying the least annual fees of all provinces, but we know that’s not true. For instance, we know that Free State is paying far less than Gauteng. Some casinos pay as little as R300, yet their revenue far exceeds ours as shebeen and tavern owners. The sole reason for this extravagant increase is to minimise the number of liquor traders in the township.
As if this were not enough, we are aware of a pending case brought by some community members calling themselves the Yeoville/Bergvlei Tax association against the DTI and Liquor Board. As a result, the judge of the High Court issues a directive through our MEC of Economic Development, Hon. Maile, not to raid liquor traders until this matter has been resolved – yet we continually witness the harassment of our members by some law enforcement personnel. We strongly suspect that the motive is to close us down.
The case will be deliberated on 27 February this year. We eagerly await the outcome, although we are not sure which direction it will take. We might be requested to reapply for our shebeen licenses, which would be the worst-case scenario, since we would then have to apply for letters of consent from various municipalities. We all know that municipalities operate differently from one area to the next. Those living in previously white areas have no difficulty in obtaining letters of consent or rezoning certificates, unlike members living in previously black areas. This will further force most of us to close down.
Mish Hlophe, SALTA Acting President