The Draft Western Cape Liquor Amendment Bill was recently
published for public comment. The bill seeks to address a number of
practical challenges currently being experienced by the Western
Cape Liquor Authority in implementing the principal Western Cape
Liquor Act (2008). These amendments will enable the Liquor
Authority to perform its core function and hopefully streamline the
process of obtaining a liquor licence in the Province. Eleven
clauses of the Act are being revised. The most notable amendments
affecting the public are the following:
Temporary and Event Licences
Previously, temporary liquor licences granted for a specific
event were limited to certain types of events such as exhibitions,
concerts and sporting events. It will now be possible to obtain a
temporary liquor licence for any event at which alcohol will be
sold by way of a cash bar, including private functions and
The absolute prohibition against liquor licences being granted
for premises on which a petrol station is situated, will be
removed. The proximity of a petrol station to the licensed premises
will now be considered as one of several factors taken into account
when applications for new liquor licences are considered.
No 150 Litre Limit
The draft amendment bill no longer requires a person to obtain
written permission from the Liquor Authority to be in possession of
more than 150 litres of alcohol. A person may now have any amount
of liquor in his or her possession, as long as it is reasonably
required by that individual, their family or guests.
The 150 litre limit has been criticised by police who argue that
it often hampers the shutting down of illegal outlets such as
shebeens. The 150 litre limit amounts to about five
hundred 330ml bottles of beer or two hundred 750ml bottle
of wines, and owners of illegal outlets had learnt to store less
than this amount of alcohol on their premises. Deputy provincial
commissioner, Major-General Peter Jacobs, testified at the
Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry that while police still
confiscated the alcohol and whilst there were other provisions
under which an illegal outlet could be closed, it had become
difficult to secure a conviction and charges were regularly
withdrawn if less than 150 litres of alcohol had been found on the
The removal of this limit also brings some relief to bona fide
wine collectors who store more than 150 litres.
Powers of the SAP
The proposed amendments will significantly extend the powers of
municipal police officers whom will now be able to close illegal
outlets. Currently, only designated liquor officers and police
officers with the rank of inspector and above are allowed to do
this. Furthermore, the police will be allowed to inspect licenced
premises without a warrant if the purpose is to ensure compliance
with the Liquor Act or licence conditions and will be entitled to
close down businesses for an undetermined period of time for
various reasons. Lastly, the police and a municipality will be
allowed to sell any confiscated liquor at a public auction.
Following an initial round of public hearings, the draft
amendment bill has now been sent to the Provincial Parliament and
is likely to undergo another round of public comment. Minister of
Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, has
encouraged communities and business to "contribute their
insights to this amendment process" and interested parties
should ask to be informed of future calls for comment.
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