East London - After a four-hour compliance blitz that took local authorities to eight taverns within Scenery Pak in East London on Monday, authorities admitted that most establishments are not fully compliant.
The blitz was jointly conducted by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board and the Buffalo City Metro (East London) in response to the eNyobeni tavern tragedy, where 21 pupils died while partying, almost two weeks ago.
The city said the aim of the blitz, which was conducted under the theme “enabling a safer, responsible, caring and law-abiding community”, was to inform and educate parents, tavern owners, and the community at large, on roles, rules and responsibilities.
Speaking to IOL shortly after they had conducted the blitz, councillor Africa Maxongo, the portfolio head of spatial planning and developments in the metro, said it appears that once operators get a licence, no one follows up to ensure that they comply with all the conditions attached to it.
PHOTOS: This is the now deserted Enyobeni tavern in East London. The infamous tavern is located right inside a densely populated residential area. Furthermore, a few meters away from it there is a school. @IOL pic.twitter.com/7tKTUERMY3— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) July 4, 2022
“We went to eight places (there are 19 licenced taverns in the area) and one of the glaring things that came out that was that, yes, they have licences that were issued … But we want the liquor board to strengthen in terms of their pre-requisite prior to issuing their licences and actually lessen the conditions attached to it … because we are seeing, as a municipality, they issue the licences and then they have a long list of conditions. If you are already given the permit, you are not compelled to comply because the permit is already with you. We are saying we should come together, as BCM and the liquor board, to establish those grounds,” Maxongo said.
Furthermore, Maxongo said some of the issues have to do with municipal by-laws – like illegal extensions and noise levels – since most of the taverns operate within densely populated residential areas.
“Most of the places that we visited are non-compliant in terms of the by-laws of the municipality … Others, we are not certain in terms of the closing times because we are not there when the establishment is closed, and we are unaware of the noise levels. We are unable to verify on the spot today,” she said.
Meanwhile, the now-closed eNyobeni tavern remains the centre of attention within the poor township. Locals speak in hushed tones about how the now criminally charged owner of the place, Vuyokazi Ndevu, ignored their plea to lower the noise at night.
People from afar still come to the place, to take photos of the place which was illegally extended, and leave.
The mass funeral service for the deceased will be held on Wednesday, at Scenery Sports Field and President Cyril Ramaphosa will attend it.