LIMPOPO– A weekend Inspection blitz carried out by officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), South African Police (SAPS) Service and Limpopo Liquor Board resulted in 10 illegal liquor outlets being shut down.

Spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said in a statement on Monday that the blitz started on Friday morning and ended in the early hours of Sunday with the dti issuing 15 notices of fines worth R8,000.

More than thirty-nine outlets raging from Taverns, Restaurants, Distributors and Manufacturers were raided in Bela-Bela, Rooiberg, Kromdraai, Pienaarsrivier and Zuma Location.

Chief Director at the dti’s National Liquor Authority (NLA) Prea Ramdhuny said the purpose of the inspection blitz was to enforce compliance with the liquor Act, 2003 (Act 59 of 2003) within the liquor industry in Bela Bela and surrounding areas.

“Most outlets that were given fines and compliance notices were traders operating with leased licenses, alteration without authority, failing to produce proof of registration renewal, failing to keep records of license holders,” said Ramdhuny.

Ramdhuny said it was clear some of the registrants were in deliberate violation of the provisions of regulation 22 of the 2013 Liquor Amendment Regulations, which stipulate that they must keep records of all retailers buying liquor from them.

She said not doing so was a deliberate act intended to avoid being caught out and charged for selling liquor to unlicensed.

“We need to communicate more on the norms and standards including the Liquor Amendment Regulation, of 2013. This will enhance compliance on registrants and will reduce the amount of liquor that is distributed to illegal traders,” Ramdhuny said.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) National Liquor Control, Colonel Thomas Sithagu said contact crimes like murder, robbery, assault and rape were still problematic in the country and such crimes were linked to abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Police said as a result of the blitz 43 cases were opened including; possession of dagga, possession of dangerous weapon, trading of liquor without a license, and distribution of liquor to unlicensed persons.

“By doing these raids some of these cases can be prevented and can lead to the reduce of contact crimes in order to ensure compliance among licence holders and to prevent accessibility of liquor by illegal traders,” said Colonel Sithagu.

The Director for Compliance at the Limpopo Liquor Board, Dion Pelser said since the last operation by the Province a number of illegal traders has significantly reduced.

“The blitz has shown that the message is getting across to the traders, but there are still cases were you still find traders breaking the law and not complying. We still want to reach a certain percentage were we see the industry transforming and contributing to the economy of the country,” said Pelser

Pelser said the board wants liquor traders to comply, trade responsibly and avoid a situation where their licences are revoked or cancelled.

Most of the illegal liquor trade premises that were closed down were populated by young children who were under-age.

Common contraventions ranged patrons drinking outside the liquor premises, selling take away while in possession of an on-consumption licence, failure to display original licence, effecting structural alterations without prior approval of the board, and operation a tavern with a liquor hotel.

– African News Agency

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