Cape Town - Liquor traders fear they may face closure because of a by-law to be implemented next month. Traders who operate on Sundays are to be stripped of their special licences as the City of Cape Town bans alcohol sales on that day of the week.
“I will lose 52 trading days a year. This closure will make my business financially (unviable) and will force it to close,” said Vaughan Johnson, owner of the Vaughan Johnson Wine Shop at the V & A Waterfront.
Johnson, who has been trading seven days a week for 21 years, said the by-law sent a “dangerous” signal to the tourism industry.
“This law restricts tourists from coming in and buying a bottle of wine to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. They will be horrified by this.”
Johnson said Sunday traders had not given the city any problems and should not suffer because of alcohol abuse by other parties.
“Any alcohol abuse that may take place in Cape Town happens 20km away from the Waterfront in the former township areas, where illegal shebeens have traded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, secure in the knowledge that the police are unwilling or too scared to enforce the law.”
Harley’s Liquor and Wine Specialists on the corner of Wale Street and Buitengragt have been trading with a Sunday licence for 16 years.
Manager David Mokhosoa says closing on Sundays would lead to losses of more than R1 million a year.
“I’m not happy at all. We will lose so much and jobs are on the line. People will… go to pubs instead, so how is this going to help?”
Midmar Liquors has been selling alcohol to the public and to restaurants on Sundays for the past 10 years.
“Restaurants usually run out of alcohol on the Saturday and end up coming to us to restock on Sunday. Where will they go now?” said manager Grant Marais.
He was unsure how great an effect the by-law would have on his business.
“It’s all hearsay right now,” he said.
“We haven’t even been told about the by-laws, so we don’t know the facts. I’m guessing they’ll probably tell us three days before the month ends.”
Some traders have agreed to appeal against the by-law as soon as it comes into force.
The SA Liquor Traders Association has expressed its support for local traders.
“Banning sales of alcohol on Sunday is not the solution. It will have a ripple effect and many will suffer,” association chairman Saint Madlala said. He believed closure would promote illegal trading and perpetuate the problems the by-law aimed to curb.
“If the demand is high and the supply is low, business can be made. In this case, illegal business will be made to compensate for the laws.”
Madlala said the main problem with alcohol abuse was a lack of law enforcement and education.