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Wednesday Oct 10, 2012

Businessman abandons Bo-Kaap liquor plan

A businessman who wanted to sell liquor in Bo-Kaap has abandoned plans to open a restaurant there, while residents have vowed to keep the suburb alcohol-free.

Samuel Wekwete said in an e-mail to lawyer Seehaam Samaai, representing the residents, that he would not open a restaurant at 59 Wale Street. He had applied for a liquor licence transfer from Dutch-owned company Beekay 122 Investments, which also owns the Wale Street property.

The Bo-Kaap Civic Association's application came before the Western Cape High Court yesterday. None of the 11 respondents was at court. The matter was postponed to December 7 to allow them to respond.

The association wants the court to set aside the liquor licence granted to Beekay and to prevent its being transferred from Beekay to Wekwete.

Wekwete has not filed responding court arguments, but in a document dated October 5 he confirmed he would walk away from plans to open Abantu Restaurant in Bo-Kaap.

The document is a printout of an e-mail filed in the association's court application. It was sent to Samaai, director of the UWC Legal Aid Clinic, last Friday.

"Please note that after serious consideration of the facts and events surrounding the Bo-Kaap community and the liquor licence issue over the past two months, my business and I personally have decided not to trade at 59 Wale Street as of close of business today," said Wekwete. "I will therefore not be attending the court session on Tuesday morning."

Beekay said through its local legal team, Marcusse Law Firm, that it would consider opposing court action aimed at revoking its licence.

Osman Shaboodien, chairman of the civic association, and other Bo-Kaap residents went to Cape Town central police station in Buitenkant Street yesterday to ask police to investigate how the liquor licence had been granted to Beekay. Shaboodien said they did not want anyone selling alcohol in Bo-Kaap.

"We cannot compromise on a liquor licence. Our demand is very simple: scrap the licence. We want to keep the Bo-Kaap dry. We will take action against anyone who wants to sell alcohol in Bo-Kaap," he said.

Gabebah Jassiem, chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Cultural and Heritage Association, said it was "disrespectful" of companies to want to sell alcohol in an area with a largely Muslim population. Islam prohibits alcohol consumption.

"We have the athaan (call to prayer) going off and we have prayers at night and when people get drunk they have loud parties. They get rowdy and it is a disturbance for people praying at mosque.

"Alcohol is not necessarily about religion only. It goes with drugs and there are other things involved.

"If we allow this, it will expose our children to alcohol and will change the whole face of the Bo-Kaap."

Cape Times

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