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When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers

Liquor traders in Ekurhuleni have once again found themselves in a very difficult situation – trading with permits but without having consent from the town planning department. When the permits were initially issued in 2004 under the provision of the then-liquor authority and MEC, it was with the understanding that people who sold liquor without the proper documentation should come forward so that they could be issued with permits, which would prevent them from being harassed by the police. Providing these permits also enabled people to better their premises, to reach the standard of establishments such as taverns, with proper facilities for customers.

Through these permits, many traders managed to put their kids through school and ensure there is food on the table for their families. Ten years after the government took the initiative to alleviate poverty and create jobs through these permits, town planning has created by-laws which state that consent needs to be given in order to trade – to the extent that liquor traders are being issued with contravention notices, stating: “You are hereby accordingly instructed, in terms of provision of section 40 and 42 of the town planning and township Ordinance 15 of 1986 (as amended), to cease the above-mentioned alleged illegal land use and restore the property to its original purpose, within 28 days from the date of this letter.”

These notices make trading very difficult and liquor traders are confused, as they believe their permits are legitimate. This has had a negative impact on their businesses.

Liquor traders in Ekurhuleni have once again found themselves in a very difficult situation – trading with permits but without having consent from the town planning department.

The Gauteng Liquor Forum (GLF), under the leadership of president Linda Madida, took the initiative of organising a meeting with the town planning department to try and resolve this matter. The meeting took place on September 7, 2015 at Kempton Park’s Sanlam building. Affected associations and other relevant individuals were invited, including SALTA, led by Mish Hlophe. Also sitting in on the meeting were the Gauteng Liquor Authority (GLA) and Ekurhuleni City Planning with its legal team.

After lengthy deliberations, it was agreed by all parties that this matter was initially influenced by political motivation and required political interference. As such, the matter will be escalated to the principals of both entities or relevant politicians, including the MMC, and the next developments will be communicated so that this matter can be resolved. While the outcome of this court matter is pending, the GLA has made it clear that no person or any institution should interfere with the proceedings of the court.

Prepared by a member of the GLF

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