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WOULD you be prepared to take your mother to your favourite shebeen?

Some patrons would be proud to – for good reason.

There are shebeens in the Western Cape that have become an integral part of the communities in which they ply their business.

More than 1,000 of them have been licensed by the Western Cape Liquor Board over the past few years.

And most of them conduct their activities in an efficient manner.

But there are some bad apples. Some shebeens, mainly unlicensed ones, have been roundly criticised for encouraging excessive drinking and anti-social behaviour – again for good reason.

Some irresponsible owners of these establishments have no qualms about selling alcohol to under-18s. Some serve liquor to patrons who are already drunk. And some continue trading long after their stipulated closing time.

The new Western Cape Liquor Act, which was passed in November 2008, does not outlaw licensed shebeens. But it does make it very difficult for more shebeen licenses to be granted.

Like other licensed outlets, licensed shebeens will be closely monitored by the police and Liquor Board inspectors. And those who breach the conditions of their licence had better beware: they will run the risk of being shut down.

If you’re a patron of a shebeen, you have the right to enjoy your drink in comfort and safety. If not, and especially if you see the law being broken, test the Liquor Board’s resolve to clean up the industry:

Complain – loudly if you have to … and in writing if you must.

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