News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
3 minute read
30 Jan 2018
8:00 am

Private school in booze, bar row over residence

Virginia Keppler

Gauteng Liquor Board chairperson says his stakeholders don’t violate any law.

FED UP. Riaan Smith and Magriet Dercksen are employees of the Liquor Planet bottle store that is being forced to move due to the Les Marais Spark School that opened this year in Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

A big row has erupted after a private school set up its premises directly above a bar and a booze store.

The bar and the liquor outlet owners, along with a security training school, claim the owner of the building is trying to force them out in favour of the school.

But the liquor licensing authority says the school should have checked who was also in the building before signing its lease because legally there are restrictions on liquor outlets or bars and their proximity to places of learning.

Spark School, which started operations on January 15 in a building in Les Marais, Pretoria, wants the bar and the liquor store out – but the two tenants say they were there first and the school should be the one moving out.

Liquor store owner Derick van Zyl, and the owner of Fusion Action Bar, Manie Texeira, said they both renewed their lease agreement late last year each for another three years respectively.

According to the law, a bar is not allowed to operate within 500m of a school area, but Van Zyl said the school must move out because he had been running his business there for seven years.

Wheelchair-bound Texeira, owner of the bar, said he is also not going anywhere because he bought the place with the last money he had about a year ago.

To force the tenants out, the toilets used by a security training college also on the premises were demolished over a week ago, but after a brief protest by the trainees, the toilets were fixed.

George van der Westhuizen, owner of the security company, said: “I have over 70 trainees and I cannot just pack up and go. I asked that they give us at least until the end of March to move out,” he said.

Van Zyl and Texeira said they also can’t go because their liquor licence is only valid for their current addresses.

Van Zyl said a man named Israel, who is connected to the school, offered to pay him two months’ rent to move out before the school opened on January 15.

“I refused to accept his offer because my liquor licence applies to my present address. I must also think about my workers because this business are their livelihood,” he said.

According to Van Zyl, Israel said he had a consortium of lawyers at his beck and call and that it will cost Van Zyl a lot of money to fight him in court.

Gauteng Liquor Board chairperson Fhedzisani Pandelani said while there should be a clear distance of 500m between a school and a bottle store or bar, his stakeholders have not violated any law.

“You will find more often it is the schools that move into the space of bottle stores or bars. In this case, we have already issued the licences to these outlets and our stakeholders have not violated the law.

“They are within their rights and the school should have made sure it did not move into a space where there are current businesses,” Pandelani said.

He said the education department should step in and enforce their regulations upon the private school.

In a brief telephone call, a man who introduced himself as Israel, told The Citizen they had fixed the toilets and is working on getting the tenants out.

He first said he was connected to the school, but in a second conversation he was acting on behalf of the landlord.

“My surname is not important. The school is leasing the property and have not bought it. We are aware of the bar and the liquor store and we are handling it,” said Israel. Van Zyl and Texeira have since consulted with lawyers.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said he did not have any information and could not respond.

– virginiak@citizen.co.za

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