Limpopo alcohol curfew leaves patrons angry and traders hopeless

A Polokwane pub owner has painted a hopeless picture at his establishment on the first weekend of operating since the province introduced the midnight alcohol curfew.

In addition to watching patrons leave with potential income just after midnight on Friday, the owner, who asked not to be named, says he also had to let go of staff members because the club will be closing earlier.

He added that just like during lockdown a year ago, his patrons panic-bought and piled up on a few bottles of alcohol just before midnight to takeaway and drink elsewhere.

“We waited for cops to come or someone to come and intervene, but no one really came so we just took it upon ourselves not to break the rules or find ourselves on the other side of the law, so we just went ahead and closed,” he said.

The owner said he cannot quantify in rands how much he lost on the first night of the weekend, which marks the first weekend since the Limpopo Department of Economic Development introduced the new Liquor Act which bans the sale of alcohol after 12am.

“I am friends with most of our patrons. We have a loyal customer base, so they were also concerned and kept asking us what time we are closing. Everyone was really concerned but we saw people buying the bulk of it,” he said.

Mogalakwena Liquor Association chairperson Patience Shilenge said the situation at her pub, Machesa Seta Bar Lounge was tense as patrons refused to leave and started being violent.

“As a female owner I felt unsafe because our customers got angry, they feel like we are the ones who don’t want to serve them because everything is happening so sudden, they were never cautioned about this,”

“We asked clients to leave. They set outside by the pavements and drank from there. We felt very unsafe because they were so angry we thought they would even break the doors,” Shilenge said.

Shilenge said no police was sent to aid them into the first big weekend of the implementation of the law.

Shilenge added that she has had to release a staff member from her team because there won’t be a need for extra hands since the short operating times.

Meanwhile, the department released a statement dismissing a fake letter which was circulating on Friday claiming that the department had suspended the implementation of the act following a court application brought by the Sekhukhune Liquor Association brought against them.

Department spokesperson Zaid Kalla was not available for comment as his phone rang unanswered on Saturday.

Limpopo Artists, who also say the act will affect their livelihoods will picket outside the court on Tuesday when the matter is heard. 

Limpopo Artists Movement Chairperson Mphoza Mashabela said: “we took a decision to go and picket with Sekhukhune district liquor association. We are pledging support to them because are fighting the same enemy so we have organized this massive picketing and calling all Limpopo artists and fans to give us support from 8am.”

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