Shebeen owners speak out

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

Shebeen owners in Hanover Park, who are members of the Cape Flats Shebeeners’ Association, claim Philippi police are victimising them, as they are “soft targets”.

Properties of a few of the association’s members were raided when a police operation in search of illegal firearms, drugs and stolen property was conducted last month, as it is believed the shebeen owners often take stolen property as payment for alcohol.

The shebeen owners, however, deny this, saying they are being targeted while police fail to deal with “real crime”.

Sheila Jacobs, the leader of the Cape Flats Shebeeners’ Association, said the organisation was a “self-regulated structure” with rules and regulations.

“Our association was started in 2009, when Clause 89 of the then Western Cape Liquor Act gave shebeen owners 12 months to apply to become legal traders. After that year’s election, however, with a new provincial government in place, new laws were made and that clause was removed. That was the end of licensing shebeens in residential areas. We have since fought for our members.

“Our country’s constitution states that the wealth of the country will be shared among all. Alcohol is not just for the elite, but we need to be responsible traders. We give a time to trade, and we have our rules and regulations, and we will continue with our efforts until government hears our cries,” Ms Jacobs said.

Their rules, she said, obligate their members to combat social ills, ensure the safety of their patrons and not cause problems for people in residential areas.

When asked about shebeens being the cause of social ills, Ms Jacobs said: “We can never be the cause of social ills. Individuals need to take responsibility. If shebeens are the cause for social ills, then other, big outlets are also a cause of social ills.”

Ms Jacobs said having a shebeen near one’s home was safer – especially in areas like Hanover Park.

“It is dangerous to go to a bottle store, as people don’t have the freedom to walk around. They get robbed, stabbed and shot. People in the American territory cannot go in the Ghetto or Mongrel territory. Although they are not gangsters, they are targeted by the rivals. Most people are not against shebeens, because it is near their homes and it is more safe.”

Lorraine Khan, the leader of the Hanover Park branch of the association, said her premises was raided on Thursday February 25.

“The search warrant that was used to raid my property, was for drugs, guns and stolen goods – it was not for liquor. They arrested me, detained me from 10am until 4.30pm, and they confiscated 45 beers and did not give a receipt or any proof of the amount of liquor,” Ms Khan said.

Arthur Abrahams said his property was raided at least twice a month. They always threaten me. I feel victimised,” he said.

Rughsana Andrews said she was arrested in December. Six cases of alcohol were confiscated, but she did not receive any proof of the amount of liquor which had been seized, she said.

“They kept me the whole morning in the cells, they took photos and my fingerprints as if I committed murder, only releasing me after 3pm,” said Ms Andrews.

Athlone News asked Philippi SAPS to comment on these allegations, but by the time this edition went to print, they had not responded.