Cape Town - It has been a “long battle” - though possibly not the last - for Bo-Kaap residents who have successfully stopped the sale of liquor next to a mosque in their area.
The Bo-Kaap Civic Association and the Nurul Islam Mosque cemented their victory in the Western Cape High Court on Friday.
Judge President John Hlophe set aside the premises’s liquor licence, which was granted on November 14 last year.
The applicants took Samuel Wekwete, who ran a restaurant at 59 Wale Street, next to the mosque, to court. Other respondents were the Western Cape liquor authority, the liquor licensing tribunal, the MEC for economic development and tourism, and seven others. The City of Cape Town shut down the restaurant this year because the property did not have a fire escape.
The property is owned by Beekay 122 Investments, a company registered in Cape Town, which in turn is owned by Dutch citizens.
Wekwete rented the building from Beekay.
In a bid to have Beekay’s liquor licence set aside and to stop it from being transferred to Wekwete, the civic association and the mosque filed the court action.
The application was initially opposed. However, the applicants’ attorney, UWC Legal Aid Clinic acting director Shamiel Jassiem, said that opposition had later been withdrawn.
This opened the door for the applicants to secure the court relief, which Judge Hlophe granted.
They received an affidavit from the liquor licence authority’s lawyers last week, telling of the reasons for the authority’s withdrawing its opposition to the matter.
“The affidavit basically said that at that stage, when they considered the application, they’d had no knowledge it was in the vicinity of a mosque,” Jassiem said.
However, he cautioned that while this was a victory for his clients, Judge Hlophe’s order did not prevent a person from applying for a liquor licence for the premises in the future.
If this did occur, the civic association would oppose it, particularly if the proper procedures were not followed.
Osman Shaboodien, chairman of the civic association, said the court’s decision had brought an end to a “long battle” that had shed light on liquor licences being issued “recklessly”.
“This is a victory for the Bo-Kaap community, especially considering what’s happening in terms of gentrification there. It lays the foundation that there needs to be a mutual respect of people’s beliefs, cultures and traditions.”