Cape Town – A rising trend in the establishment of illegal shebeens is making it difficult to fight crime, Police Minister Bheki Cele said yesterday.
Speaking during a visit to the Site B shebeen where seven people were killed and seven more wounded at the weekend, Cele said alcohol abuse was fuelling violent crimes.
“We need to tighten liquor laws, and relook at when (shebeens) close. If shebeens or taverns operate without considering law enforcement and the police, we will really have to strengthen laws,” he said.
The 14 victims were attacked when gunmen opened fire on Sunday.
Cele said the spot was shut three years ago, but it has continued operating under “undefined circumstances”.
A 6-year-old girl was among the wounded.
Along with Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale, Deputy National Commissioner for Policing Fannie Masemola and Western Cape provincial commissioner Yolisa Matakata, Cele said police were working with the Justice Department to enhance liquor laws.
“We will have to try to strengthen laws that deal with alcohol. At present, provinces have their own laws when it comes to trading in alcohol.
“We want to move for a single national law, because it has been proved beyond doubt that alcohol is a big source of crime,” he said.
Site B Catholic Church's Reverend Mvuselelo Antony urged residents to unite in fighting crime.
“The deployment of police will make no difference in reducing crime the community needs to come together to fight crime by working with police.
"The visit by the minister will not reduce crime. Innocent lives are being taken by a gun every weekend and still we see no arrests.
"We pray and hope for more arrests in connection with this incident,” said Antony.
One person has been arrested for the attack, and police said more arrests were imminent.
Police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters said the suspect appeared in court yesterday on charges of murder and attempted murder.
“Minister Cele has subsequently urged the multi-disciplinary investigating team to work around the clock and ensure that all suspects are apprehended given the preliminary evidence suggesting that there was more than one suspect,” Peters said.
Community leader Bankie Tengwa said residents have requested more police visibility in the area, but that has not happened.