Tavern owners have expressed mixed emotions over the decision by the government to lift the ban on the sale of liquor.
Although they were excited with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision, tavern owners have begged the SA Breweries and other suppliers for assistance. The lockdown has had a major impact on their financial situation.
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The sale of alcohol is expected to resume on June 1.
They have promised to comply with all regulations tabled by the government.
The tavern owners have complained about being neglected by the government – they say they have been excluded from the relief fund awarded to other small business owners.
They said they pleaded with their suppliers for loans because they didn’t have money to buy stock.
Moses Maseko, who owns a tavern in Lawley, south of Johannesburg, said the lockdown had hit him hard in the pocket, and he was unable to pay his four employees.
“I don’t have money to pay my workers. My employees are aware of the financial crisis faced by all taverns in the country. I only managed to pay them in March.
“They have not received their April and May salaries because I don’t have money to pay them. They know very well that I need to sell liquor to pay them.
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“I have lost a lot of money and there is no income at all. I am excited that we are going back to business, but the problem is where will I find money to restart my business. I plead with the SAB and other suppliers to assist us, as its clients, to restart our lives,” said Maseko.
Zandile Madzena, who owns a tavern in Fine Town, also south of Johannesburg, said her business was her only source of income.
“I am surviving on selling alcohol. I am too old to go and look for employment,” said Madzena.
Madzena said she didn’t have money to buy stock because she had used all her profit to maintain her family during the lockdown.
“I don’t have money coming in, unlike before. Taverns don’t bring in a lot of money for us, as many people think. We are surviving from hand to mouth because the little we make goes back to our suppliers and we must also eat and maintain our families.
“Honestly, I am happy that I will be able to sell alcohol again. As tavern owners, we are willing to comply with all regulations and will sanitise our premises, screen our customers, and sanitise their hands when entering our places.
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“My worry is that I don’t think I will have as many customers as I had before lockdown because we are going to be compelled to sell ‘take-away’ only and no customers will be allowed to sit and drink. I plead with SAB to rescue us and maybe lend us some few beers to sell and repay them later because I don’t have money.
“I am well informed about coronavirus and know what to do to prevent the virus from spreading. I don’t think our customers will give us headaches because they know where we come from and don’t want alcohol to be prohibited again,” said Madzena.
A Lenasia South tavern owner, Tryphina Modisane, also echoed her plea to the SAB and other suppliers to come to their rescue.
“I am going to comply with the regulations. I am going to even write on my walls conditions that would be stipulated for us to operate under. I don’t want to lose my business certificate. I have survived many years selling alcohol and this is the only job I know.
“The lockdown has affected us a lot, especially me as a breadwinner. We were ignored by our government when it gave other small companies relief funds to survive. Even before the lockdown was introduced, we were already operating under regulated times,” said Modisane.