Businessman abandons liquor plan in Bo-Kaap

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

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

Samuel Wekwete confirmed in court papers 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 who also own the Wale Street premises.

The Bo-Kaap Civic Assocation’s legal action was launched at the Western Cape High Court yesterday. None of the 11 respondents were present at court. The matter was postponed to December 7.

The association wants the court to set aside the liquor licence granted to Beekay. It also wants the court to prevent the liquor licence transfer from Beekay to Wekwete.

Bo-Kaap residents who want to keep their suburb free from alcohol outside the Western Cape High Court. Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien

Among those called to court was Wekwete and Beekay owners.

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.

This document is a print-out of an e-mail filed in the association’s court application. It was sent to Seehaam 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 (yesterday) morning.”

Beekay owners said via its local legal team, Marcusse Law Firm, that it would consider opposing court action aimed at having its liquor licence revoked.

It also asked Samaai to “forward a copy of the court order to our offices”.

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the civic association, and other Bo-Kaap residents went to the Caledon Square police station in Buitenkant Street in the city yesterday to request police to investigate how the liquor licence was granted to Beekay.

Shaboodien said they did not want any persons selling alcohol in Bo-Kaap.

“We cannot compromise on a liquor licence. Our demand is very simple: scrap the licence. We want to keep 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 in Bo-Kaap, said it was “disrespectful” that companies want to sell alcohol in an area which has 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 who are praying at mosque,” said Jassiem.

“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.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

One response to “Businessman abandons liquor plan in Bo-Kaap”

  1. Rushdi says :

    Although I commend the action taking by the Bo-Kaap community, how about we as a global muslim community put an end to the knee jerk reactions that the world has grown accustomed to seeing from Muslims. Use this movement and really promote an alcohol and drug free muslim society. Look to our youth who feel the need to experiment with these vices and educate them about the evils therein. And let us do it in a manner that our Nabee SAW would have done.

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