Ten popular East London drinking holes were shut down in Buffalo City Metro at the weekend for violating municipal bylaws, and posing safety and health hazards.
The violations varied from not having clearly marked toilets for male and female patrons, not having bouncers and only having one door.
The raids sank the businesses deeper into debt and left staff members without pay as they lost out on weekend business.
The tavern owners are up in arms and have slammed the city for loss of income.
Yesterday, tavern owners told the Daily Dispatch they were struggling to repay suppliers such as South African Breweries (SAB) after taking stock on credit for the weekend, which they could not sell due to the shutdown.
Taverns order stock from SAB and pay for it after three days.
The establishments that were shut down included Ndosi Tavern in Southernwood, Chunky Charlie near Gilwell Mall, Natalie’s Tavern in Union street, Cindy’s Wine and Dine in North Street, CJ Chocolate in Southernwood, Premier Entertainment in Southernwood, Kwa Piksi in Douglas Smith and Windyridge Streets, Emlanjeni Tavern in Southernwood, Belgrave Bar lounge in St Pauls Road and CD’s Tavern in the city centre.
Ndosi owner Skhumbuzo Mhlanga said: “I owe SAB R60000 for their alcohol which I ordered for the weekend.”
Mhlanga, who also owns CJ’s, said he lost R70000 over the weekend.
“They rocked up at 4pm and demanded all the business documentation and I supplied them. They were satisfied and left.
“However, they came back 50 minutes later and told me to shut down for not having a business licence.”
Mhlanga claimed that after 11 years in the business, he never heard of taverns having to possess business licences on top of liquor licences.
“I was tipped off by a BCM official that it is only businesses selling food that need a business licence, not liquor stores.
“I feel victimised because they were very intimidating.”
Out of 11 establishments raided by the police, law enforcement and traffic officials, only Zooming Lounge in Stephenson Street was found to have met all requirements.
BCM red-flagged the businesses for operating without business licences and contravening health and safety standards.
BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the taverns were each issued R1000 fines, which they had to pay at the municipality’s local economic development offices.
Eastern Cape Liqour Board spokesman Mgwebi Msiya confirmed that the establishments were registered outlets with operating licences.
“However, they were fined by the municipality for failing to meet some of the municipal conditions [bylaws].”
Sharma Lala of Cindy’s said officials accompanied by an army of police pounced on her tavern during peak hour on Friday and chased customers out before confiscating their alcohol.
“I was forced to pay the customers back,” she said.
Premier Entertainment Tavern manager Sinazo Manengele said the business lost R115000 in revenue over the weekend.
Manengele said the business was closed by BCM’s fire department for not having a fire escape.
“They said we should make a second door in case of a fire emergency so that patrons can exit through. They also complained that the toilet doors had no signs to separate male from female toilets.”
Manengele also said they were told to hire bouncers to stand guard at the door and search patrons who might be carrying illegal weapons.
“We have now made all the necessary changes so we are waiting for them to inspect again.” — firstname.lastname@example.org