The Forum, which represents
20,000 tavern and shebeen owners, said the extension of the lockdown from the
initial 21-day period to the end of April will “most likely ruin”
businesses of its members.
President Cyril Ramaphosa
announced the extension of the lockdown on Thursday by another two weeks,
saying preliminary evidence showed that keeping people at home slowed the
spread of the virus to around 4% new infections a day compared to over 42%
before the lockdown.
“We are not against the
lockdown. We’ve been supportive of everything that the President has initiated
and we fully agree that he should have taken measures to slow down the spread
of the virus,” said the forum’s spokesperson, Thabo Modise.
“But, our members were
never even considered in any relief that has been spoken about to help small
The forum wrote a letter
to the President threatening the court action on Saturday.
Modise said shebeen and
tavern owners are not registered under the Companies and Intellectual Property
Commission but get their licenses from the Gauteng Liquor Board instead, and as
such are not recognised under the relief given to small business owners.
At the time of publication,
FIN24 wasn’t able to get comment from the Ministry of Small Business as well as
Representing the forum, Eric
Mabuza of Mabuza Attorneys said alcohol traders in the township are not getting
the relief because either their taxes are not in order or the requirements to
get the relief are too stringent.
“Even in times of crisis,
we must reflect and be sober about how we deal with issues,” he said,
adding that if the government had consulted with the industry before
instituting the ban, the issue of relief would have come to light and perhaps a
special scheme put in place.
Restrict sale of alcohol
instead of a complete ban
Mabuza said less restrictive
measures that the industry would welcome include restricted trading hours,
limiting sale quantities and even prohibition of on-site consumption where
people buy and drink at home.
“Just like people go out
every day to buy groceries, people can go out to buy alcohol to take home on
limited quantities and specified types,” he said.