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As we gear up for the festive season, liquor traders in the townships are scrambling to obtain trading licences.

Out of 8500 licences across the province, only 5% belong to black liquor business owners, former Liquor Tribunal member Thulani Pike has revealed.

Pike quit the tribunal in 2016 citing an “anti-black tendency”.

While the Western Cape Liquor Authority wouldn’t verify the number of licensed black traders compared to their white counterparts.

Pike alleged the DA used zoning and complex legislation to marginalise liquor traders in the townships, as most township areas are zoned as residential.

He referred to a mall that is being built in Philippi, which has a planned major liquor store that already has an approved licence. Pike said liquor traders in the townships had to jump through hoops and could never get a licence before their premises were built.

Martin Makhasi, from the Nyanga community policing forum, concurred, saying the applications from big businesses were not given to CPFs for vetting, as per law, while they were given township liquor traders’ applications to examine.

Nyanga Liquor Traders Association chairperson Daniel Maswana said it had upset the small business community that a white-owned liquor company had been able to obtain a liquor licence even before the construction of the Philippi mall had been complete.

“They do their utmost best to turn us down and they fight with everything they have. They don’t issue licences, clamp down on illegal traders and have even restricted our times, while the big companies continue to even trade for longer hours on Sundays,” said Maswana.

He said even though township liquor traders sell smaller volumes of alcohol compared to big-name companies, they were fined the same - from R60 000 up to R120000.

“The turnovers are not the same, but we pay the same amount. This is ridiculous,” Maswana said.

He said they were told that there were too many liquor stores in the townships. Maswana said this was startling to them as the number is meagre compared to businesses in the CBD and on Voortrekker Road.

Western Cape Liquor Traders Organisation chairperson Allan Samuels said he was organising a meeting with Community Safety MEC Alan Winde.

Phillip Prinsloo, Western Cape Liquor Authority deputy director of communications, education and stakeholder relations said zoning is a hurdle for township traders. He said the authority had suggested to municipalities to review their zoning schemes.