Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

S Africa defends drinking den ban

South African shebeen
Shebeen owners say they will mount a legal challenge to the bill

A new law which calls time on 30,000 drinking dens, or shebeens, in South Africa will help reduce crime, a local official has told the BBC.

Western Cape Minister Garth Strachan said the abuse of alcohol was linked to drugs and organised crime.

The bill would bar the drinking dens from residential areas.

Furious shebeen owners have protested, saying it would deprive them of their livelihoods and leave 150,000 people "without food".

Some 3,000 protesters marched on the provincial parliament on Tuesday to hand in a petition against the bill.

They claim they were not consulted about the Western Cape Liquor Act and have threatened to challenge it in the courts, as well as boycott forthcoming elections.

'We are tigers'

But Mr Strachan - provincial minister of finance, economic development and tourism - urged shebeen owners to apply for licences.

He told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme: "Abuse of alcohol is strongly associated with crime, gangsterism, sale of drugs and fatal accidents on our roads. There are people who may put food on the table by selling of alcohol.

"The reality though is that we can't deal with the problems in our society, including poverty and unemployment, by allowing unregulated selling of alcohol."

He said police would not be able to close Western Cape's 30,000 illegal shebeens overnight but added this was a step towards licensing drinking dens, spared regulation for too long.

Die Burger newspaper reports that Mr Strachan listened patiently as furious protesters read out the lengthy petition of 8,000 signatures to him on Tuesday and sang: "We are tigers and not scared of you."

Errol Jackson, of the Western Cape Shebeen Association, told the newspaper: "The government wants to address a social problem, but they are taking our jobs."

Print Sponsor

Country profile: South Africa
18 Oct 08 |  Country profiles


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific