The Liquor Trade in the Free State

The statute in the Free State is the Free State Gambling and Liquor Act 6 of 2010.1

The Act contains the general criminal provision that non-compliance with any provision in the Act is an offence.2 It is also an offence to make any false statement in any application or return given in terms of the Act,3 as it is to contravene any condition of a licence or registration.4 There are some prohibitions to which these general provisions would obviously apply and these are referenced together with specific offences in what follows.

NOTE: The Act applies equally to methylated spirits as it does to liquor. The reference to methylated spirits is not repeated; wherever ‘liquor’ appears, read ‘or methylated spirits’ as well.

A. Retailers and wholesalers5

  1. You may not sell liquor without being duly registered to do so in terms of this Act.6

  2. If you make any false statement in any application or return under the Act, you commit an offence.7

  3. In general, it is a criminal offence to contravene any condition of a licence or registration.8

  4. The court can, in convicting someone of any offence, prohibit him from entering licensed premises. Obviously, it is an offence to fail to comply with an order, but the registered licensee (the ‘registrant’) also commits an offence if he knowingly permits such person to enter the licensed premises.9

  5. It is an offence to sell or supply liquor to a drunk person, or (if you are the registrant, or person in charge) to allow a drunk person to remain upon the registered premises.10

B. Micro-manufacturing11

  1. It is an offence to micro-manufacture liquor without being duly registered to do so in terms of this Act.12

C. Concoctions

  1. It is an offence to manufacture any substance that is unsafe for human consumption – in other words, a concoction.13

  2. It is an offence to sell a concoction.14

  3. It is an offence to supply any concoction as liquor or as beer.15

  4. In fact, it is a crime even to have a concoction in your possession.16

D. Premises and storage

  1. A registrant may carry out its activities only in, or from, registered premises. It is an offence to do otherwise.17

  2. It is an offence not to comply with all conditions of your registration.18

  3. A registrant may store liquor only in the registered premises, and in accordance with applicable legislation and conditions of registration. It is a crime to contravene this provision.19

  4. A registrant commits an offence if he fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of liquor20 contrary to the conditions of his registration, or contrary to applicable legislation.21

E. Employers and employees

  1. It is an offence to employ a person of 15 years or younger in any activity relating to retail sale of liquor unless that person is undergoing training or a learnership contemplated in the Skills Development Act, 1998.22

  2. It is an offence to supply liquor to any person as an inducement to employment.23

  3. It is also an offence to:
    • supply liquor to an employee as, or in lieu of wages or remuneration;24 or
    • deduct from an employee’s wages or remuneration any amount relating to the cost of liquor either supplied to him, or to a person on his behalf, or purchased by him or by someone on his behalf.25
  4. Any person who unlawfully prevents the owner of any premises, or a person working for that owner, from entering the premises in order to comply with a requirement of the Act commits an offence.26

F. Advertising

  1. It is a crime to advertise liquor in a false or misleading manner.27

  2. No advertisement for liquor may target or attract minors or school-going learners and the advertiser in question commits an offence if he breaches this prohibition.28

  3. It is an offence to advertise a substance that is prohibited in terms of the Act.29

  4. It is a crime to advertise a substance as liquor if that substance is not liquor as defined in the Act.30

G. Minors

  1. A person may not sell or supply liquor to a minor31 or school-going learner,32 and commits an offence if he does.33 34

  2. It is an offence not to take reasonable measures to determine accurately whether or not a person is a minor or school-going learner, before selling or supplying liquor to that person.35

  3. Any minor or school-going learner who makes a false claim about his age in order to induce a person to sell or supply liquor to him commits a crime.36 37

  4. Similarly, it is a crime for someone else to make a false claim about the age of a minor or a school-going learner in order to induce a person to sell or supply liquor to the minor or school-going learner.38

  5. A minor or school-going learner may not supply liquor to another person and commits an offence if he does.39

H. Gaming

  1. It is a crime to conduct any unlicensed gambling on any licensed premises.40

  2. It is also a crime to keep any unlicensed gambling device on any licensed premises.41

  3. Moreover, if you conduct any game, on any licensed premises, otherwise than in accordance with the rules of such game you are not only a cheat, but also a criminal.42

I. Police officers and inspectors

  1. It is an offence to hinder or obstruct any police officer or inspector in the performance of his functions under the Act.43

  2. If you give an explanation or information to a police officer or inspector which is false or misleading, knowing it to be false or misleading, you commit an offence.44

  3. To falsely represent yourself to be an inspector is a crime.45

  4. If an inspector or police officer seizes anything in the performance of his functions, it is a crime if, without his consent in writing, you:
    • remove it from the place where it has been left by the inspector or police officer; or
    • tamper with it;
    • destroy it;
    • make alterations to it.46
  5. It is an offence if you refuse to grant an inspector access to premises to which he is authorised to have access.47

  6. Where an inspector has reason to believe that the Act, or a condition of a licence or registration, is not being complied with, he may issue a ‘compliance notice’ detailing (amongst other things) the steps that must be taken to remedy the position.48 Any person who fails to comply with a compliance notice commits an offence.49

J. Falsehoods

  1. If you falsely pretend to be a registrant, licence holder or inspector, you commit an offence.50

  2. It is an offence falsely, or without authorisation, to alter:

    • a registration certificate;
    • a licence issued in terms of the Act; or
    • an authorisation of a warrant, compliance notice or compliance certificate contemplated in Chapter 5 of the Act.51

K. Consumers

  1. It is a crime to be drunk on premises in which liquor is sold; or in a place to which the public has access.52

  2. You may not purchase liquor from any person knowing (or having reasonable grounds to suspect) that such person is not registered or permitted to sell liquor in terms of the Act or in terms of the National Liquor Act. It is an offence to do otherwise.53

  3. If you consume any liquor in any road, street, lane or thoroughfare, or on vacant land adjacent thereto, in an urban or rural area or other area subdivided into erven or plots with streets bounded by such erven or plots, you commit an offence.54

  4. If you even consume or possess liquor spirits on private premises, without the consent of the owner or lawful occupier of those premises first having been obtained, you commit an offence.55

  5. It is an offence to introduce, possess or consume any liquor on a sports ground (or a part thereof) to which the public has access, except on registered premises situated on the sports ground.56

L. Hearings of Liquor Authority

The Liquor Authority can conduct an enquiry into any matter falling within the scope of its powers and functions.

  1. If you have been summoned to give evidence at an enquiry, you commit an offence, if without sufficient cause, you:
    • fail to attend at the time and place specified in the summons;
    • fail to remain in attendance until the conclusion of the enquiry, or until excused by the Board;
    • fail to produce any book, document or thing which you have been summoned to produce.57
  2. It is an offence if, without sufficient cause, you:
    • refuse to take the oath or to make an affirmation as a witness after you have been directed to do so; or
    • refuse to testify; or
    • refuse or fail to answer fully and satisfactorily (to the best of your knowledge and belief) any question lawfully put.58
  3. It is a crime to give false evidence before the Board at any enquiry on any matter, knowing such evidence to be false, or not knowing or believing it to be true.59
  1. NOTE: The Act has compendious provisions which deal with gambling. Those have been excluded from this Chapter. 

  2. Section 128(1)(a). 

  3. Section 128(1)(b). 

  4. Section 128(1)(c). 

  5. The Free State Act refers to being ‘registered’ to sell liquor. (The other provinces refer to ‘licensed’.) 

  6. Section 22(1) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  7. Section 128(1)(b). 

  8. Section 128(1)(c). 

  9. Section 128(i). 

  10. Section 128(3)(b). 

  11. This means a person who produces liquor at or below the threshold volumes prescribed by the Minister. At present, these regulations are in Government Notice 980 of 17 August 2004. Regulation 12 provides the volumes as: (a) for manufacturers of beer, 100 million litres per year; (b) for the manufacture of traditional African beer, 50 million litres per year; (c) for manufacture of wine, 4 million litres per year; and (d) for manufacture of spirits and/or any other liquor, 2 million litres per year. 

  12. Section 22(1) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  13. Section 22(2) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  14. Ibid

  15. Ibid

  16. Ibid

  17. Section 23(1) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  18. Ibid

  19. Section 23(2) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  20. The inclusion (see the ‘Note’ in the introduction to this chapter) of methylated spirits does not apply here. 

  21. Section 23(3) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  22. Section 24(1) read with section 128(1)a). 

  23. Section 24(2)(a) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  24. Section 24(2)(b) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  25. Section 24(2)(c) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  26. Section 128(2)(b). 

  27. Section 25(1)(a)(i) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  28. Section 25(1)(a)(ii) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  29. Section 25(1)(b) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  30. Section 25(2) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  31. This is someone who has not yet turned 18 years of age. 

  32. This could be someone 18 years and over. 

  33. This does not apply where the parent or an adult guardian, or a person responsible for administering a religious sacrament, on occasion supplies a moderate quantity of liquor to be consumed in his presence and under his supervision. See section 26(2). 

  34. Section 26(1) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  35. Section 26(3) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  36. This is a bit incongruous. The point about being a school-going learner is just that, not one’s age. This also applies to the next provision. 

  37. Section 26(4) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  38. Section 26(5) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  39. Section 26(6) read with section 128(1)(a). 

  40. Section 128(1)(d). 

  41. Ibid

  42. Ibid

  43. Section 128(1)(e). 

  44. Section 128(1)(f). 

  45. Section 128(1)(g). 

  46. Section 128(1)(h). 

  47. Section 128(2)(a). 

  48. See Section 115(2). 

  49. Section 128(2)(e). 

  50. Section 128(2)(c). 

  51. Section 128(2)(d). 

  52. Section 128(3)(a). 

  53. Section 128(3)(c). 

  54. Section 128(3)(d). 

  55. Section 128(3)(e). 

  56. Section 128(3)(f). 

  57. Section 128(j). 

  58. Section 128(k)(i). 

  59. Section 128(k)(ii).