The Liquor Trade in Mpumalanga

The relevant statute is the Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act 2006, which came into force on 1 September 2014.

It has been described as the ‘most progressive of all’ provincial legislation on the subject,1 although (obviously) there are a lot of parallels with the 1989 (National) Act when it comes to the criminal provisions. The Act is administered by the Mpumalanga Economics Regulator (referred to as the ‘Authority’) which exercises the powers and functions necessary to give effect to the Act.

The Mpumalanga Act contains a general provision to the effect that any person who contravenes any provision of the Act is guilty of an offence,2 and there are also several specified offences. What follows, deals with the more likely offences under the general provision, together with the specific offences.

A. Retailers

  1. It is an offence to sell any liquor otherwise than under a licence issued in terms of the Act.3

  2. The holder of an on-consumption licence4 who:
    • allows drunkenness or licentious conduct5 on the licensed premises;
    • allows the licensed premises to be used as a brothel;
    • allows any person to perform an offensive, indecent or obscene act,

    shall be guilty of an offence.6

  3. The holder of an off-consumption licence who:7
    • opens any receptacle containing liquor sold by him;
    • allows it to be opened on the licensed premises; or
    • allows the consumption of liquor on such licensed premises,

    shall be guilty of an offence.8

  4. You commit a criminal offence if you sell to any person liquor as being of a particular kind, or brand, or as the product of a particular person, which it is not.9

  5. It is a criminal offence to sell liquor to any person who is under the age of 18 years.10

  6. It is a criminal offence to sell liquor to any person who is violent, drunk or disorderly or under the influence of a drug having a narcotic effect.11

  7. If the business under a licence is owned by a corporation or partnership, a human being (who is not disqualified in terms of the Act to be a licensed person) must be appointed to manage and be responsible for the business to which such licence relates. If this does not happen, it is an offence.12 13

  8. Any person who enters into, or is a party to any agreement which seeks either to limit, or to extend the scope and extent of a licence issued in terms of the Act, or any of the requirements, terms and conditions pertaining to such licence, commits an offence.14

B. Micro-manufacturers

  1. It is a crime to micro-manufacture15 any liquor otherwise than under a licence issued in terms of the Act.16

C. Employers

  1. It is an offence to supply liquor to an employee as wages, or remuneration, or to supplement his pay.17

  2. It is a crime to employ any person in connection with the sale of liquor who:18

    • is under the age of 16 years;19 or
    • has within the preceding three years been convicted of a contravention of this Act.

D. Consumers

  1. It is a criminal offence to be violent, drunk or disorderly on any premises on which liquor may be sold.20

  2. If you are drunk in, or on, or near:
    • any road, street, lane, thoroughfare, square, park or market;
    • any shop, warehouse or public garage; or
    • any place of entertainment, café, eating-house or race course or any other premises or place to which the public has access,

    you commit an offence.21

  3. You may not even consume any liquor:
    • in any road, street, lane or thoroughfare;
    • on vacant land adjacent thereto in an urban area;
    • on vacant land in any other area subdivided into erven or plots with streets bounded by such erven or plots,

    and commit an offence if you do.22 23

  4. It is an offence to consume or possess any liquor on any private premises without the consent of the owner or lawful occupier of those premises first having been obtained.24

  5. If you falsely represent yourself (or any other person) to belong or not to belong to a category of persons in order to persuade the holder of a licence, or his agent or employee, to sell or supply liquor contrary to the Act, you commit an offence.25

E. Sports grounds

  1. If you introduce, possess or consume any liquor on a sports ground (or any part thereof) to which the public has access, you commit an offence except if it is:
    • on any licensed premises situated on the sports ground concerned; or
    • if the Mpumalanga Liquor Authority has exempted this provision, by a declaration, for a particular occasion.26
  2. If you own (or lawfully occupy) the sports ground for which that exemption applies, you commit an offence if you refuse or fail to comply with any condition attached to that declaration.27

F. The Mpumalanga Liquor Authority

  1. The Authority can summons anyone who may be affected by, or is involved in the consideration by it of any particular matter, to appear before it. If you have been summoned and fail to appear on the date, and at the time and place set out in the summons, you commit an offence.28

  2. It is also a crime not to remain in attendance at such meeting until the conclusion thereof (unless excused by the chairperson).29

  3. If you have been called upon to give evidence, it is a crime:
    • not to answer every question truthfully and to the best of your ability;
    • to refuse to take the oath or make an affirmation.30
  4. If you have been ordered to produce any document or any other thing in your possession or control, it is an offence to refuse or fail to comply with the order.31

  5. It is an offence wilfully to interrupt the proceedings at any meeting of the Authority, Board or a committee thereof, or to hinder or obstruct any member in the performance of his functions at such meeting.32

G. Inspectors

  1. Any person who falsely holds himself out to be an inspector in terms of the Act commits an offence.33

  2. Inspectors are given extensive powers to question, search, enter premises, inspect, make demands and seize documents. It is a crime to do any of the following:
    • refuse or fail to answer (to the best of your knowledge) any relevant question which an inspector puts to you;34
    • make a statement to an inspector which you know is false or misleading in any material respect;35
    • refuse or fail to comply (to the best of your ability) with any lawful demand, order or requirement of an inspector;36
    • furnish any name or address which you know is false or misleading.37
  3. It is, generally, a criminal offence to hinder or obstruct an inspector in the exercise of his powers.38

  4. An inspector for the Liquor Authority can order the holder of a licence (or his manager or agent) to appear before him for questioning. Any person who refuses or fails to comply forthwith with such order commits an offence.39 40

  5. If you are in charge of any premises or place while an inspector is there, you must render such assistance as that inspector may reasonably require in the exercise and performance of his functions, and you commit an offence if you fail or refuse to do so.41

H. False information and misrepresentations

  1. If, in connection with any application, objection, representations, reply to any objection or representations or complaint in terms of the Act you submit or provide any information which:
    • you know to be false or misleading; or
    • you do not know whether it is true,

    you commit an offence.42

  2. It is also an offence to submit any false document, or a document which purports to be but is not a true copy of an original document.43

  3. If you refuse or fail to comply with any request made in terms of the Act, or knowingly furnish any information which is false or misleading, you commit an offence.44

I. Unhealthy concoctions

  1. It is an offence to micro-manufacture, have in your possession, or custody or control, or sell to any person any concoction manufactured by the fermentation of any substance, the consumption of which may be harmful to any person’s health or well-being and which is specified as such by notice in the Government or Provincial Gazette.45

  2. It is, actually, a crime to consume such a concoction.46

  3. It is also a crime to do any of the above in relation to any drink manufactured by the distillation of any such liquor or concoction.47


  2. See section 59(1)k. 

  3. Section 59(1)(a) and section 32. 

  4. This is a licence for the retail sale of liquor for consumption on the premises where the liquor is sold – see section 33(1)(a). 

  5. This means promiscuity or sexually unprincipled conduct – Concise Oxford Dictionary. 

  6. Section 64. 

  7. This is a licence for the retail sale of liquor for consumption away from (i.e. ‘off’) the premises where it is sold. See section 33(1)(b). 

  8. Section 65. 

  9. Section 48(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  10. Section 44(a) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  11. Section 44(b) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  12. Section 45(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  13. Section 45(1). 

  14. Section 63. 

  15. A micro-manufacturer is a person who manufacturers to the maximum yearly volume as promulgated by the Minister. According to Regulation 12, promulgated under Government Notice 280 on 17 August 2004, the volumes are: (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. 

  16. Section 59(1)(a). 

  17. Section 59(1)(j). 

  18. Section 47(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  19. This does not apply to any person of the age of 15 years who is undergoing training in catering services, and who is employed by the licensed person as part of such training. 

  20. Section 59(1)(b). 

  21. Section 59(1)(c). 

  22. This does not apply if the liquor was sold on the land under an on-consumption licence; or it was a social occasion held on the land by its owner or lawful occupier; or if it was during the use of the land in the course of your ordinary occupation. 

  23. Section 59(1)(d). 

  24. Section 59(1)(e). 

  25. Section 59(1)(h). 

  26. Section 59(1)(f)(i). 

  27. Section 59(1)(g). 

  28. Section 61(a)(i) and section 51(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  29. Section 61(1)(ii) and section 51(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  30. Section 61(b) and section 51(1) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  31. Section 61(c). 

  32. Section 61(e). 

  33. Section 62(a). 

  34. Section 62(b). 

  35. Section 62(c). 

  36. Section 62(d). 

  37. Section 62(f). 

  38. Section 62(e). 

  39. Section 59(1)(i) read with section 54(1)(g). The section in the Act refers to an order given under section 54(1)h but this must be a typographical error. Section 54(1)g refers to these orders. 

  40. Section 59(1)(i). 

  41. Section 54(5) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  42. Section 60(a). 

  43. Ibid

  44. Section 60(b). 

  45. Section 48(2) read with section 59(1)(k). 

  46. Ibid

  47. Section 48(3) read with section 59(1)(k).