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The Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal by a shebeen owner to have a forfeiture order set aside, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday.
The court found in favour of the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit and upheld the forfeiture order previously granted against a shebeen, owned by Hilda and Edward van der Burg, spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.
The couple had been running a shebeen in contravention of the Liquor Act for several years from their home in Athlone, Cape Town.
They argued that the Constitutional Court should condone the late lodging of their application for leave to appeal, grant leave to appeal and hold that the forfeiture provisions of Prevention of Organised Crime Act did not apply to the case, and that forfeiture was disproportionate in their circumstance.
“The Constitutional Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. It found that Prevention of Organised Crime Act was applicable to the offence of illegal selling liquor.”
He said the court ruled that the forfeiture was not disproportionate because nearly 60 police actions had failed to stop the profitable and co-ordinated, unlawful activities.
The court ordered that a social worker should investigate whether the couple's minor children should be removed from their parents' care.
Mhaga said the judgment had clarified a number of legal issues which would allow the State to take stronger action against illegal shebeens in future. - Sapa