An eatery in downtown Tzaneen was forced to close its doors on Saturday afternoon after the establishment allegedly continued its usual operations, including the sale of booze, long after the recently instituted curfew of 13:00. The establishment, “Biltong and Braai Eating House” situated between Roman’s Pizza and Galito’s in Lannie Lane, was still packed with guests by 17:00 on Saturday afternoon.
The building is owned and managed by Erf 46 Eiendomme Beperk and was originally the first Post Office in town. It now houses four businesses including Gallito’s, KFC, Romans and Biltong and Braai Eating House. These four businesses lease their premises from Erf 46. Andre Venter is a director in the company and spoke to Bulletin regarding the incident.
“I was sent videos and images by one of the neighbouring establishments on Saturday afternoon after they had already closed for business. The place was clearly packed, and patrons were seen with open bottles of alcohol on the sidewalks and drinking in the streets. I drove to the venue and confronted the owner of the establishment, demanding that he close immediately as it was not only in breach of his lease agreement, but also against the law,” related Venter.
The owner of the establishment is a male from Ethiopia and according to his ID Card, he is listed as a refugee. The expiry date on his ID Card is 2018/11/27 and it is not clear whether he has applied for a renewal. He allegedly took over the leasing of the Biltong and Braai Eating roughly two months ago.
“When I said to him that he must immediately close and send the patrons home in accordance with the new disaster management act curfew, he first claimed that he had been granted dispensation from government. When asked to produce any documents supporting his claim he admitted that he had none and closed the doors.”
Venter remained at the scene until the last of the patrons had left the building before retiring. According to him, there were no police officers on scene, and he noticed only a patrol vehicle passing by. The establishment is less than a kilometre from the Tzaneen police station.
“We have spoken to the other tenants and after serious consideration we have approached our legal advisors to start the process of evicting this occupant from the building,” explained Venter. “Our aim is to attract families to this centre and in light of this, we cannot allow for this type of behaviour.”
Two other tenants told Bulletin that patrons from the tavern come into their restaurants and use their bathroom facilities and become aggressive when the managers ask them to leave. “We have been complaining about this for a while now. The place next door is an absolute disgusting mess with drunk patrons urinating in the alley and drinking loudly in the street and on the pavement in front of our establishments. This behaviour makes the area unsafe and chases our customers away.”
Government announced new regulations as part of the Disaster Management Act after it declared the Covid-19 outbreak a national state of disaster more than a week ago. The Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has published these regulations (Notice 318 in Government Gazette 43107) which relate to establishments selling liquor.
“All restaurants, bars, taverns and similar establishments that sell liquor and have space for more than 100 people have to close today (19 March 2020), unless they can prove that they can and will limit the number of people to 50. Strict hygiene policies are also to be implemented as proof. Trading hours will be limited as well. These establishments will be required to close at 18:00 (6pm) on weekdays and 13:00 (1pm) over weekends.” Gatherings of more than 100 people could lead to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both a fine and imprisonment. The authorities will be required to cancel the gathering immediately.
As of yesterday, very strict measures have been put in place and people have been requested to remain in their homes. Taverns and other businesses will not be permitted to open their doors, serve food or even deliver food to clients. We will stay updated on this situation and keep our readers informed.