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Friday Oct 05, 2012

Property owners fight Bo-Kaap liquor licence

Bo-Kaap residents are seeking court action to prevent liquor sales next to a mosque in their area.

The Bo-Kaap Civic Association and the Nurul Islam Mosque want the Western Cape High Court to stop the transfer of a liquor licence to Samuel Wekwete, who previously ran a restaurant next to the mosque.

Their legal action has been filed against Wekwete, the Western Cape Liquor Authority, the Liquor Licensing Tribunal, the provincial MEC for economic development and tourism, and seven others.

Wekwete ran a restaurant - without a business licence - at 59 Wale Street next to Nurul Islam Mosque. The City of Cape Town shut down his restaurant this year because the premises did not have a fire escape.

Dutch citizens who own Beekay 122 Investments, a company registered in Cape Town, own the Bo-Kaap property. Wekwete rented the building from Beekay.

Wekwete is intent on reopening his business and has applied for the transfer of a liquor licence from Beekay.

Seehaam Samaai, director of the UWC Legal Aid Clinic representing Bo-Kaap residents, said their court application seeks an interdict to prevent Wekwete from obtaining a liquor licence.

Legal Aid also alleges in its court application that Beekay dishonestly obtained a liquor licence. Beekay, in its successful application for a liquor licence to the Western Cape Liquor Authority, claimed "there are no schools or places of worship in close proximity to the premises" where the liquor licence would be used.

"We have no record whether or not they appointed a permanent South African citizen to run their business. They are based in the Netherlands, and South African law states that to obtain a liquor licence you must have a local business partner," said Samaai.

Samaai said that even though Muslims are forbidden to consume alcohol and Bo-Kaap has a mostly Muslim population, this "isn't an Islamic issue".

"This is about governance. We are questioning the validity of the process. We want to know how this licence was issued, because there was also no public participation. A liquor authority officer claimed that he spoke to residents, but he did not. The community did not know that a liquor licence was issued," she alleged.

Nick Spencer, a liquor authority representative, said the "transfer of the liquor licence would be considered in due course".

Wekwete told the Cape Times yesterday that he had "no comment".

"I have received notification of this court action. If there is any court case, people who are going to court will go to court. As for me, I have no comment," he said.

Marcel Hoogebeen, who manages the Beekay property in Bo-Kaap, confirmed that they had received details of the court application.

"We have not filed a responding affidavit," he said.

Samaai's application appealed to the court to hear the matter on Tuesday.

Cape Times

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