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By Philda Essop
Zoning regulations could be lowered a notch by the Western Cape legislature, in an attempt to legalise shebeens.
The Western Cape Liquor Bill seeks to regulate the informal liquor industry. About 30 000 shebeens operate in the province. The deadline for the bill is the end of October.
The bill was discussed by the standing committee on finance and economic development on Thursday.
Chairman Garth Strachan said the Western Cape would follow a similar route to that of Gauteng, where the zoning regulation bar was lowered to allow shebeens to operate in residential areas.
A separate category would be created, he said, for areas where shebeens would be operated. This would apply in more affluent areas.
But he said not all shebeens would be legalised: "We will not lower the bar where there is any evidence of criminality, if the shebeen is situated close to a place of worship like a mosque or church and schools, and where there is a clear and evident disturbance to the community."
The committee has requested the Department of Economic Development for support measures for shebeens to become compliant.
The committee agreed to a general condition included in the bill, to prohibit the sale of wine in unmarked papsakke (wine sold in foil bags) or any other unmarked container.