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Day in the life of a liquor inspector

Inspector Leroy Nolan shares the story of his day, a day in the life of a WCLA inspector, with Weslander.

In the past, as a police officer and station commander, he accrued a wealth of knowledge and expertise about the Western Cape Liquor Act.

“I enjoy my work very much,” Nolan says. “No two days are the same.”

Nolan works according to an operational plan based on various areas. He works across the Metro, East and West Coast, and at the various district municipalities in between. “On Monday I may attend to a complaint in Nyanga, and on Tuesday a Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) request in Citrusdal,” he said.

However, Nolan’s work hours are not cast in stone, for he works weekdays and weekends at all hours, monitoring licence holders’ compliance with bylaws relating to trading hours. This means if there are complaints in the early hours of the morning Nolan will work outside of his operational plan to attend to these.

On a day-to-day basis he may receive complaints from the public and requests from LLT, which he will attend to by inspecting the premises in terms of whether it is completed and developed according to its business plan. He will liaise with neighbours and provide training to licence holders, where necessary. Nolan also checks whether there are children or pregnant women drinking on premises, and whether there are enough security measures inside and outside the premises, including lighting or security personnel.

“The licensee must at all time ensure that no weapons or dangerous objects are brought into the premises”, said Leroy. He will assess whether the facility has additional rooms are areas not included on its business plan. If there are additional and unaccounted-for rooms the vendor will be issued with a compliance notice to ensure they apply for an extension in terms of floor plan.

In terms of off-consumption premises, such as bottle stores, Nolan looks out for such things as the resale of alcohol to unlicensed liquor holders. Here an unlicensed vendor buys alcohol from a liquor vendor, who will be issued with a Section 76(1)(e) notice requesting the licence holder refrain from selling alcohol to unlicensed premises. If the license holder, at a later stage, was found to have sold liquor to unlicensed premises, a Section 20 report will be compiled and forwarded to the internal prosecuting authority. By doing so Nolan reduces the relevant harm, as the sale of alcohol to unregulated and ultimately unsafe institutions is curbed.

His workday does not stop at inspections. He then returns to the office to complete administration, reports to internal prosecution authorities, and compiles reports for the LLT who then decide whether a hearing will take place or a fine will be issued to the offending licence holder.

Nolan works very closely with Saps, and often receives calls or requests for assistance. In many instances he will attend to a complaint together with the police.

He will also closely monitor whether institutions are promoting binge drinking by speaking to the liquor vendor. He is very concerned about vendors selling large amounts of alcohol near closing time, as this encourages binge drinking, and issues notices accordingly.

Nolan stresses that in instances of criminal activity committed at a licenced establishment he will submit a Section 71 report to the LLT requesting the licence be suspended pending a Section 20 hearing. This is to ensure the safety of those at the premises.

“I was once asked to visit a property together with police, after it was reported that suspects involved in a double murder and killing of a police officer hid in a Wesbank tavern,” he said. “The liquor licence was subsequently revoked by the LLT.”

Asked if he had pearls of wisdom to impart, Nolan said he urges licence holders to promote safe practices in alcohol consumption by, say, ensuring they do not sell a lot of alcohol before closing hours, do not allow children or pregnant women to drink on site, and ensure effective security to safeguard inside and outside the establishment.

Importantly, he asks licence holders to ensure they do not sell liquor to people who are drunk and disorderly on their premises.

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