Dunoon tavern owner left out to dry

The Western Cape Liquor Authority says it had to pull Fourways Tavern's licence after getting several complaints about it.

A Dunoon tavern owner has accused the police of wrongfully seizing hundreds of thousands of rand worth of her stock and putting her out of business.

Fourways Tavern owner Funiwe Nyembezi, 44, says Milnerton police raided the popular drinking spot in September, confiscating all her alcohol. She claims they had no right to do so as she had a licence to sell liquor. “They came to take the alcohol on September 11, without a warrant, I might add, and proceeded to harass me and my staff in the process.

“They did not give us a figure of how much the alcohol is worth and would not allow us to go with them to their storage space where they keep confiscated alcohol.”

Ms Nyembezi said she had learnt from media reports that the police had valued the seized liquor at
R400 000, but she disputes that figure, saying it is worth much more. She said she was fighting to have her stock returned.

“On October 12, I went to renew my licence for 2019. I paid R4 360 for the licence, and it was approved with no issues. Two weeks later, I get a letter saying that my application was revoked. I don’t understand what is going on now because it seems like they are trying all they can to keep me closed and out of business.”

Milnerton police spokeswoman, Captain Nopaya Madyibi, confirmed SAPS officers, together with the Provincial Liquor Office and City law enforcement, had raided the tavern and seized the alcohol worth about R400 000.

Police officers, she said, had testified before a liquor board hearing that the tavern owner had flouted liquor laws many times since 2009.

“After a hearing was conducted, the suspect’s liquor licence was revoked, and she had 30 days to appeal, but still, she did not comply. The suspect kept the premises open and continued with her business.”

Police arrested Ms Nyembezi during the raid and charged her with dealing in liquor without a licence.

Western Cape Liquor Authority spokesman, Philip Prinsloo, said Ms Nyembezi’s licence had been pulled following many complaints.

“A hearing was held, and the then licence holder was present at the hearings and was represented by her legal team. She has also been served properly with the decision of the Liquor Licensing Tribunal and still proceeded to trade which even resulted in the SAPS taking criminal action against her,” he said.

The tribunal, he said, looked at three things when considering a liquor licence application:

Is the applicant someone of sound character?

Will the premises be suitable for the type of liquor licence being applied for?

Is it in the public interest to grant the licence?

Noluthando Mqikela, from the Dunoon Street Committee, said they had had no problem with Fourways Tavern.

“We have never encountered any negative incidents concerning it since its inception. Instead, the owner is contributing tremendously to the community. For example, she is the sponsor of the soccer team which helps in taking our kids off the streets,” she said.

Zintle Gavu, 38, who runs a small takeaway near the tavern in Cosmos Street, relied on its patrons to earn about R1 500 a week. Since the tavern had closed, she now struggled to make even half that, she said.

Originally from the Eastern Cape, she now stays in Parklands and spent R2 700 on building materials and spent more for a stove and a fridge to start her business.

“The closing of the tavern not only hurts me, as I have to put food on the table for my kids, but I saw that it is hurting the greater community as Ms Nyembezi does a lot of work for the community,” she said.

To learn more about liquor-licence applications, visit the Western Cape Liquor Authority’s website at www.wcla.gov.za or call
021 204 9805.