The managers of two popular restaurants in Sandton and Silverton face charges related to violating lockdown regulations, after being arrested for selling liquor in place, despite there being an alcohol ban in place.
The arrests were made during the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) O Kae Molao Operations during the weekend. Police pounced on the first restaurant in Silverton, Pretoria on Friday evening, 15 January 2021, when they were conducting routine patrols and noticed cars parked outside of the establishment.
“On enquiring, police found the restaurant operating and about eleven people drinking alcohol on site. In the storeroom was alcohol in ice buckets ready to be served. The manager was arrested and charged with contravention of the Disaster Management Act,” said SAPS spokesperson Mavela Masondo.
While on Saturday, 16 January 2021, police in Johannesburg acted on information they had received about a Sandton restaurant selling alcohol to patrons. “Information was received through crime intelligence about a popular restaurant in Sandton, West Street that is selling alcohol to patrons…police pounced on the restaurant and found the place full to capacity and alcohol served openly on the tables and health protocols not adhered to,” said SAPS spokesperson Mavela Masondo.
Two of the managers were subsequently arrested and charged with the contravention of the Level 3 lockdown regulations. Police also confiscated alcohol to the approximate value of R600 000.
Under Level 3 of the lockdown, the sale and on-site consumption of alcohol has been banned. The alcohol ban has been one of the most contentious regulations related to COVID-19 lockdown. The sector has argued that the alcohol ban unfairly disadvantages the industry and has launched a lawsuit against the government.
The constant back-and-forth related to the alcohol ban has been unsettling for the sector. The National Liquor Traders Council and Liquor Traders Association of South Africa has sought financial assistance government. They’re seeking R20 000 for each tavern and shebeen owners.
The group wants to urgently meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa with the aim of ending the alcohol ban and coming up with solutions.