A body of liquor traders is set to do battle with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Finance MEC Alan Winde, heading to court to challenge new legislation in the province surrounding the sale of liquor.
The group, the Mitchells Plain Liquor Traders Association, has already filed court papers in which they ask the Western Cape High Court to interdict the provincial government from shortening liquor trading hours in terms of the new law.
In addition, the association has asked the court to interdict the provincial government from “enforcing a zoning scheme certificate for existing liquor licence holders”.
The City of Cape Town and the provincial Speaker have also been cited as parties.
In an affidavit before the court, association chairman Elton Oosthuizen said the body was formed when 27 liquor licence traders amalgamated in August 2009 to protect the interests of liquor traders in residential areas. Oosthuizen stressed, however, that the association’s members did not include shebeen owners, saying that liquor shop traders had an off-site consumption licence, which meant clients were only allowed to buy liquor and that there was no sit-down option.
“It needs to be mentioned that the said amalgamation further strengthened the divide between the negative shebeen traders and the liquor shop trader. The applicant, through its executive committee, ensures that its members comply with every legal element in their business and the annual Sars returns,” he added.
The association was informed that the new liquor law would allow municipalities to pass by-laws that would have a negative effect on their businesses. In addition, the association learnt that, in terms of the new law, trading hours would be shortened by two hours, Oosthuizen said.
“The loss of the two hours of trading would constitute a severe blow to the economic viability of applicants’ business, bearing in mind that applicants’ peak trading hours are between 6pm and 8pm, when the clientele arrive from their places of employment.”
fears turned to reality when Zille assented to the Western Cape Liquor Amendment Act in March.
According to Oosthuizen, the association had no other option but to approach the court for relief.
Zille, the Western Cape government and the chairman of the Western Cape Liquor Licence Tribunal have filed a notice of their intention to oppose the application, scheduled to go to court early next year.