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The Liquor Trade in Limpopo and North West

The Liquor Act 1989 is applicable in Limpopo and North West.1

A. Licences

Licences are issued by the Liquor Board, and fall into two main categories:

  1. It is a criminal offence to sell liquor except under a licence specific to the particular circumstances.4 5

  2. The Liquor Board can grant exemption (by way of a declaration) from the provision that liquor may not be brought onto, possessed or consumed at sports grounds to which the public has access.6 The owner, or tenant, of the sports ground commits an offence if he fails to comply with any provision or condition of the exemption.7

  3. It is a crime to use false pretences about the category of persons you, or someone else, belong to in order to persuade someone to sell, or supply liquor and which would be unlawful because liquor may not be supplied to a person who does not belong to that category.8

  4. A magistrate, or any warrant officer (and above) in the police may order the holder of a licence (or an exempted person) to close the business, if he is of the opinion that a strike, lockout, public disturbance, disorder, riot or public violence is occurring or threatening.9 If the person concerned fails to comply with such an order he is guilty of an offence.10

  5. It is a crime to submit or provide false information, and/or false documents in connection with any application for a licence, or any other application, or any objection, or any representations made in terms of the Act.11

  6. The Liquor Board can request a licence holder to submit information, and/or documents in connection with his licenced premises, or the business to which the licence relates, or the licence holder’s interest in the liquor trade.12 It is an offence to fail to comply with such a request, or to respond with false or misleading information.13

B. Drinking in public

  1. It is an offence to be drunk,14 or violent, or disorderly on any premises where liquor may be sold.15

  2. It is an offence to be drunk in, or on, or even near any:
    • road, street, lane or thoroughfare (that is, an access way);16
    • square, park or market;17
    • shop, warehouse or public garage;18
    • place of entertainment, café, eating house;19
    • race course;20
    • place to which the public has, or is granted access.21
  3. It is a crime to consume liquor:
    • in any road, street, lane or thoroughfare in any urban area;22
    • in any road, street, lane or thoroughfare in any other area which is subdivided into plots, with streets;23
    • on vacant land adjacent to such road, street, lane or thoroughfare.24
  4. It is an offence to bring into, possess, or consume liquor on a sports ground to which the public has access.25 26

C. Licence holder’s general obligations

  1. In general, it is an offence to:
    • fail to comply with any condition attached to a licence;27
    • allow some other person to acquire a controlling interest in a licenced business, without the consent of the Liquor Board;28
    • keep licenced premises open for the sale, supply or consumption of liquor when not permitted by the licence;29
    • sell or supply liquor at a time when not permitted by the licence;30
    • deliver liquor at a time when delivery is not permitted by the licence; and31
    • sell or supply liquor in a place not permitted by the licence.32
  2. It is an offence to sell or supply liquor, on the licensed premises, to any person under the age of 18 years.33

  3. It is, furthermore, against the law:
    • for a company to conduct business under a liquor licence, if the manager (or person responsible for the business) is not a permanent South African resident, and he is not disqualified to hold a licence;3435
    • to conduct business under the licence, on premises on which any other trade or occupation (or other licensed business) is carried on, unless it is a grocery/general dealer or a sorghum beer off-sales;3637
    • to alter, modify, reconstruct or extend licenced premises without the consent of the Liquor Board.38
  4. The Liquor Board may direct a licence holder to keep additional records, over and above those prescribed by regulation. It is an offence to fail to comply with any terms of such a directive.39

  5. The holder of a licence may not sell, or supply liquor, falsely representing it as being a particular kind, or brand, or as being manufactured by a particular company or person, and it is an offence to do so.4041

  6. If a licence holder is notified by the Liquor Board to suspend the sale of liquor pending an investigation into his activities, he commits an offence by failing to comply with the notice.42

  7. Not only the holder of a licence can be guilty of an offence in respect of any contravention of the Act, but also:
    • any manager of the business concerned;43
    • the agent or employee of the licence-holder;44
    • a family member of the licence-holder;45
    • a family member of the manager,46
  8. When a manager of the licenced business or the agent or employee of the holder of the licence or the member of such holder or manager’s family does, or omits to do, anything which would be an offence for such holder to do or omit to do, such holder shall be deemed to have committed such offence, unless it is proved that he did not permit the conduct in question, took all reasonable steps to prevent it, and that the conduct does not fall within the scope of the employment or authority of the person who did the deed.47

D. Specific obligations: On-sales48

  1. The holder of a licence for the consumption of liquor on his premises has a number of responsibilities. All of the following are included, so that he commits a crime if he allows:
    • drunkenness on the premises;49
    • immoral behaviour, or conduct which disregards accepted rules or conventions;5051
    • the premises to be used as a brothel;52
    • the premises to be frequented by any person(s) who is regarded as a prostitute;53
    • on any part of the premises to which the public has access, or where entertainment of any nature is presented:
      • any person to perform an offensive, indecent or obscene act;54
      • any person who is not clothed, or improperly clothed to perform or to appear.55
    • liquor he has sold to be consumed elsewhere than on the licenced premises.56
  2. It is, actually, a criminal offence for the holder of an on-sales licence to sell, or supply liquor to any person in a state of intoxication.5758

E. Specific obligations: Off-sales

  1. The holder of a licence for the consumption of liquor off his premises also has obligations. He commits a crime if he:
    • opens (or allows to be opened) on the licenced premises any receptacle containing liquor sold by him;59
    • allows liquor to be consumed on his premises;60
    • delivers any liquor before it is ordered;61
    • delivers any liquor without any invoice being made out in respect of the order (and the original of which must be retained);62
    • delivers liquor to an address not given in the invoice.63
  2. The holder of a liquor-store licence commits a crime if he sells liquor:
    • in a receptacle which is not properly and securely sealed;64
    • other than beer, in a receptacle which can contain more than 5 litres.65
  3. The holder of a grocer’s wine licence commits a crime if he sells liquor in a receptacle:
    • which is not properly and securely sealed;66
    • which can contain more than 5 litres.67
  4. The same applies to the holder of a wine farmer’s licence.68

  5. The same applies to the holder of a producer’s licence. Additionally, the holder of a producer’s licence may not sell liquor in a quantity of less than 4,5 litres.69

F. Drinking in private

  1. It is an offence to consume liquor on private premises without the consent of the owner or tenant of the premises.70

  2. It is even an offence to possess liquor on private premises without such consent.71

G. Illegal concoctions

  1. It is a criminal offence to manufacture, possess, sell, supply, or give to any person:
    • the drinks known as isityimiyana, hopana, qediviki, skokiaan, uhali, or Barberton;72
    • any drink similar,73 whether called by these names or otherwise;74
    • any drink made by distilling any of the above.75
  2. It is, actually, also a criminal offence to consume any of these drinks.76

H. Employees

  1. It is a criminal offence to supply liquor to an employee as wages, or remuneration, or even as a supplement to wages.77

  2. The holder of a licence commits a crime if he employs the following in connection with the sale or supply of liquor:

    • any person under the age of 18 years;78 or79
    • any person convicted and imprisoned during the previous two years for an offence concerning the sale of liquor.80
  1. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 57 of 1995. 

  2. Section 20(a). 

  3. Section 20(b). 

  4. There are exemptions from this requirement – for example, the Defence Force, Police, on-board a ship, in national parks, at proper wine-tasting functions, and so forth. See section 3 and section 4 of the Act for the full list of exempted circumstances. 

  5. Section 154(1)(a). 

  6. Section 154(4). 

  7. Section 154(1)(g). 

  8. Section 154(1)(h). 

  9. Section 126(1). 

  10. Section 154(1)(i). 

  11. Section 155(a). 

  12. Section 48. 

  13. Section 155(b). 

  14. Being ‘drunk’ is, of course, an indefinite term. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘drunk’ as deprived of proper control of oneself by alcoholic liquor

  15. Section 154(1)(b). 

  16. Section 154(1)(c)(i). 

  17. Section 154(1)(c)(i). 

  18. Section 154(1)(c)(ii). 

  19. Section 154(1)(c)(iii). 

  20. Section 154(1)(c)(iii). 

  21. Section 154(1)(c)(iii). 

  22. Section 154(1)(d). 

  23. Section 154(1)(d). 

  24. Section 154(1)(d). 

  25. This does not apply to licenced premises on the sports ground. It also does not apply if the Liquor Board has granted exemption to a particular sports ground or for a particular event. See A.2 above. 

  26. Section 154(1)(f). 

  27. Section 159(a). 

  28. Section 38(1) read with section 159(b). 

  29. Section 159(c). 

  30. Section 159(c). 

  31. Section 159(d). 

  32. Section 159(e). 

  33. Section 45(a) read with section 159(fA). 

  34. This could be because he has been previously convicted of certain offences, or he is a minor, or an unrehabilitated insolvent, or the spouse of any of the aforegoing. 

  35. Section 39(1) read with section 159(f). 

  36. ‘Off-sales’ is a British term for a seller of liquor for consumption off the premises. 

  37. Section 40(1) read with sections 87 and 99 and read with section 159(f). 

  38. Section 42 read with section 159(f). 

  39. Section 159(g). 

  40. By the way, this is also ‘passing-off’ in civil law. 

  41. Section 49(b) read with section 159(h). 

  42. Section 128(1) read with section 159(i). 

  43. Section 166. 

  44. Section 166. 

  45. Section 166. 

  46. Section 166. 

  47. Section 165. 

  48. In other words, a licence for consumption on the premises. 

  49. Section 160(a). 

  50. The Act refers to ‘licentious conduct’. 

  51. Section 160(a). 

  52. Section 160(c). 

  53. Section 160(c). 

  54. Section 160(d)(i). 

  55. Section 160(d)(ii). 

  56. Section 52 read with section 160(e). 

  57. Somewhat of a paradox, many might postulate… 

  58. Section 160(b). 

  59. Section 161(c). 

  60. Section 73(1) read with section 161(a). 

  61. Section 74(1)(a) read with section 161(a). 

  62. Section 74(1)(a) read with section 161(a). 

  63. Section 74(1)(c) read with section 161(a). 

  64. Section 84(1)(b) read with section 161(a). 

  65. Section 84(1)(c) read with section 161(a). 

  66. Section 89(1)(b)(ii) read with section 161(a). 

  67. Section 89(1)(b)(i) read with section 161(a). 

  68. Section 92 read with section 161(a). 

  69. Section 102(1) read with section 161(a). 

  70. Section 154(1)(e). 

  71. Section 154(1)(e). 

  72. Section 135(1)(a) read with section 154(1)(j). 

  73. In other words, a concoction manufactured by the fermentation of treacle, sugar, or other substances. 

  74. Section 74(1)(c) read with section 161(a). 

  75. Section 84(1)(b) read with section 161(a). 

  76. Section 84(1)(c) read with section 161(a). 

  77. Section 89(1)(b)(ii) read with section 161(a). 

  78. This does not apply to someone aged 16 or 17 undergoing training in the catering services. It also does not apply to a family member of the licence holder, or manager. 

  79. Section 44(1)(b)(i) read with section 160(e). 

  80. Section 44(1)(b)(ii) read with section 160(e).