Fish Hoek’s ‘dry town’ status explored

Donald Moore addressing the community during the Fish Hoek Valley Residents and Ratepayers Associations quarterly meeting.

Sixty percent of all violence experienced in the Western Cape is directly related to alcohol abuse.

This is according to Gideon Morris, head of provincial Department for Community Safety who addressed members of the community at the Fish Hoek Valley Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association’s (FHVRRA) quarterly meeting on Thursday November 23.

Mr Morris also leads the alcohol harms reduction game changer programme which was established in 2016 and is intended to guide the government’s approach to the regulation of alcohol in the province.

Mr Morris said more than 70% of the annual health budget goes towards the treatment of injuries that are directly related to alcohol abuse and when looking at the benefits of a liquor licence in terms of social and economic development, the cost to government that is needed to deal with the consequences of alcohol use must be taken into consideration.

He said the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) was established after 2012 with the aim to regulate the retail sale and micro-manufacturing of liquor in the province. Before 2012, liquor licences were issued under national government. On the agenda for the evening were some questions relating to Fish Hoek upholding its “dry town” status.

In the past, various liquor licence applications in Fish Hoek have been refused due to a condition stipulated in the original deed of sale in 1818.

Addressing residents on the Fish Hoek Liquor Condition of Title was retired attorney, Donald Moore.

Mr Moore shed some light on where the condition came from, to which properties the condition applies, what the condition means and does the condition apply if it is not specifically set out in the title deed of the erf held by the deed.

* Where does the condition come from

Mr Moore indicated that the condition was stipulated in a deed of grant on June 25, 1818 when the farm Visch Hoek , meaning fish corner, was granted to Andries Bruins by the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset. The original deed was in Dutch and there were six conditions subject to the property granted to Mr Bruins, the fifth being the liquor condition which stated: “Onder deze expresse conditis dat hy aldar geen tapneering zal mogen dryven” which translates to “on condition not to keep a public wine house”.

* To which properties does the condition apply?

He said the easiest way to explain this is to say that the condition applies to all properties that are subdivisions of the land that was originally granted to Mr Bruins meaning all properties in Fish Hoek from the sports fields, across Kommetjie Road, up Harrington Road including all commercial properties in Fish Hoek Main Road, to the beach as well as the Clovelly Country Club.

* What does the condition mean?

This has been debated often but at present the consensus is that it means that on no property that is subject to the condition may there be conducted the business of selling any alcoholic drink. “Tapneering” was essentially the business of dealing in alcoholic drink. Mr Moore said the condition means exactly what it said, meaning there shall be no alcohol outlets in Fish Hoek.

* If it is not specifically set out in a title deed does it apply to the erf held thereby?

He indicated that the only way to know if your property is not subject to the condition, meaning the conditions applicable to your property have been amended, is to do a detailed search through all the previous deeds applicable to your property at the deeds office. In the absence of a specific cancellation of the condition, it still applies.

Speaking on the matter of liquor licence appeals was retired judge, Deon van Zyl, who was recently appointed as the chairman of the liquor licence tribunal (LLT) for the (WCLA). He is also involved in the drafting of the new Liquor Act to ensure alcohol is regulated responsibly in the province by looking at conditions to grant, refuse or revoke liquor licences.

He said once a liquor licence has been approved it can be revoked at a later stage should the applicant not act responsibly and encouraged the community to speak out in such an event and take to proper steps to address the matter.

Members of the community can report such matters to the designated liquor officer (DLO) at the local police station.

Mr Van Zyl said according to the current Western Cape Liquor Act, the criteria for granting a liquor licence indicates that the applicant must show on a balance of probabilities that the granting of the liquor licence is in the public interest.

The applicant must not have a criminal history and the premises on which the sale of liquor will take place must be suitable for use by the applicant and the granting of the application must not prejudice the residence of that area.

Shedding more light on the issue was Advocate Jason Gerber SC, the former deputy director of public prosecutions who is responsible for reviewing regulations of the Liquor Authority Act, said liquor licences are automatically renewed by paying the renewal fee.

However, he said in cases where an applicant does not comply with the conditions as stipulated by the act, the licence can be revoked and the licence holder will have to prove why he is fit to hold it.