Death tavern loses licence
Cape Town - It was time for the police and the liquor licensing authority “to get tougher” with liquor traders who fail to comply with the law, Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said yesterday.
Winde said a ruling by the Western Cape Liquor Licensing Tribunal earlier yesterday “served as a lesson for us as well in the department; our inspections need to be jacked up”. The tribunal revoked the liquor licence of Osi’s Place, a tavern in Khayelitsha, where a tragedy resulting in the loss of eight lives took place in June.
The owner of the tavern, Phumlani Abraham, has been barred from being granted a liquor licence for the next five years.
Six young women died when the staircase of the overcrowded tavern collapsed. Another two victims died on their way to hospital when the vehicle they were travelling in crashed. Among the victims were two minors.
The tribunal found “that one plausible explanation can be that someone had lost his balance and like a set of dominoes the whole group of people were knocked over, especially because of the narrow staircase where people were coming and going without control”.
Winde said: “You can’t put 1 000 people in a 100-seater bus. It’s the same with premises, you have to manage that.”
The judgment found that Osi’s Place was overcrowded on the night of the tragedy and there were a number of minors drinking illegally on the premises.
Winde said while traders needed to be responsible, so did users and “individuals are also responsible for their own lives”.
Presiding officer of the tribunal, Vincent Bergh, had harsh words for parents in his judgment, saying that “schoolchildren should be at home”.
He said: “Unfortunately parents don’t discipline their children anymore and children do as they please.
The cause of the tragedy should not only fall at the door of the respondent (Abraham), but also with the parents who don’t control their children and with the children themselves, who are starting to use liquor illegally from an earlier and earlier age.”
Bergh’s judgment went on to say “people should learn that they must accept the consequences of the choices they make”.
Winde said 300 people died every month as a direct result of alcohol abuse.
In the Western Cape, Winde says there are about 25 000 illegal operators, and about 8 000 legal operators.
Winde said he trusted yesterday’s ruling was “a major lesson to all other traders” and urged people “to use their own judgment”. – ANA