The Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) has accused the city council of “attacking black entertainment and culture” in the suburb by shutting down its popular First Sunday initiative.
Rands Cape Town, a company started by brothers Mfundo, 32, and Mshayi Mbeki, 23, operates an open-air lounge on weekends in Khayelitsha, where residents can relax in the company of friends, listen to music and buy prepared food.
It is touted as an alternative to having to party in Cape Town’s CBD and other hubs of night time activity which are far away.
The venue, situated in the Khaya Bazaar Business Complex, one of the first shopping centres built in Khayelitsha, was shut down and issued a R2 300 fine on Saturday during an integrated operation by council officials, the SAPS and liquor monitoring bodies.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the venue was shut down for allegedly selling alcohol without a liquor licence.
“It needs to be understood though that the city council and the police need to address these illegal liquor outlets as they contribute to many attacks, rapes, car-jacking incidents and other problems identified by the crime statistics.
“The city council also has to uphold the rights and quality of lives of residents in Khayelitsha, who complain bitterly about the noise, anti-social behaviour and traffic congestion being experienced due to these venues,” Smith said.
However, the brothers refuted the allegations, saying they did not sell alcohol.
Mfundo said the closure of the venue had tainted its reputation.
“Our business is registered, we don’t sell alcohol and to chase out our patrons like that, without even coming to speak to us first so that we could apologise to our patrons was terrible.
“In fact I am still baffled by the reasons we were provided with before they closed us down and we have never received complaints of noise, like they state.”
The KDF accused the council of forcing the youth of Khayelitsha to have to travel in to the city bowl for entertainment, thereby enriching businesses there.
Rands Cape Town’s initiative gave residents a “Cape Town nightlife” experience in their suburb. Mbeki said they have 18 permanent and 17 casual staff.
“All we wanted to do is start a business that will change the energy in Khayelitsha and perceptions of entertainment in this area.
“We have received a lot of support from our patrons and lot of people associate with this place,” he said.
Mbeki also said by hosting revellers in Khayelitsha, it reduced the risk of car accidents due to people driving under the influence of alcohol.
However, Smith said even this would not prevent accidents from happening.
“For the record, being drunk in public is an offence too, so even if someone were to walk from an establishment while drunk, they would be breaking the law but also putting themselves in harm’s way.”
KDF chairman Ndithini Tyhido accused the council of “killing night life” in Khayelitsha.
He said Rands Cape Town, together with another business that was also shut down on Saturday, offered the same services youth could find in the city such as a venue, food and entertainment.
“The city is launching an attack on black entertainment and culture.
“They want all clubs to be concentrated in the CBD so people should drive all the way to town to get drunk and have fun.
“Places like Rands provide a classy environment were youth can socialise and network, getting them out of taverns such as Ozi’s (which was shut down after several young girls died in a stampede there last year),” Tyhido said.
In the city CBD, First Thursdays is hosted by galleries in and around the Church Street precinct, where patrons are often seen walking the streets consuming alcohol while viewing various art installations.
But Smith said these galleries and revellers were also subjected to the same by-laws which resulted in the closure of Rands Cape Town on Saturday.
The First Thursdays initiative was not “a free for all”.
“To suggest anything else is simply mischievous. If members of the public have concerns about the flouting of legislation at this or any other event, we encourage them to log a complaint with the city’s enforcement agencies.”
He said Cape Town residents were “free to go wherever they like for a night out”, and it was the responsibility of business owners to ensure that their establishments complied with all relevant legislation required to operate a business legally, whether they were situated in the Cape Town CBD, Khayelitsha or Wynberg.
“Establishments all over the city are inspected from time to time and those in various CBDs and the city bowls are fined and closed when they fail to comply,” Smith said.
The Mbeki brothers say their concept provides a platform for up-and-coming entrepreneurs as they showcase the work of local fashion designers and upcoming musicians.
Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are seen as major contributors to the economy, with President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan calling on entrepreneurs who occupy that space to become more active.
In response to Moody’s maintaining its investment grading for South Africa last month, Gordhan said: “We need to find new and innovative ways to search for new engines of growth, to find new ways of igniting growth and creating the jobs that our people desperately require.”
Zuma also announced short-term interventions to boost economic growth and confidence in the government’s abilities as well as to reduce policy uncertainty.
Minister of Small Businesses and Enterprises Lindiwe Zulu’s spokesman, Cornelius Monama said SMMEs were the main drivers of economic growth, poverty reduction, and job creation.
He said the National Development Plan predicted that 90 percent of new jobs would be created by new and emerging businesses.
“New job creation is typically the preserve of newly established enterprises.”