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By Esther Chirwa
A business owner of Kyawama area has appeared in the Solwezi Fast Track Court for violating the Liquor Licensing Act No. 20 of 2011, Statutory Instrument No. 22 of 2020 The Public Health (Infected areas) (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Regulations and the Presidential directive of restrictions on gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19.
Facts before the Courts are that between March 27, and April 7, 2020, Tito Kalama, 55, owner of Tito Shop was found serving customers in his Retail shop without a Liquor License and allowed gathering of more than 5 people in his shop against provisions of the Statutory Instrument No. 22 of 2020 Section 9, thereby posing a threat to life as social distancing was not observed.
Kalama pleaded not guilty to the charge of selling Liquor without a License informing the courts that he had a valid Liquor License.
In the second count, the accused pleaded guilty to allowing more than 5 people in his Shop.
The Principle Resident Magistrate Davies Chibwili thereafter adjourned the matter to April 14, 2020 for presentation of facts and possible trial after the accused gave his testimony that he had a valid Retail Liquor License which was not displayed in his shop.
The accused pleaded for leniency and to be granted bail as he claimed he needed medical attention.
Mr Chibwili granted the accused cash bail of K1000 on condition that he provides two (02) credible sureties. He however failed to provide sureties therefore still in remand.
According to the Liquor Licensing Act No 20 of 2011, a person who sells or offers for sale any intoxicating liquor without a license commits an offence and is liable upon a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand penalty units (K30, 000.00) or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or to both. Additionally, a licensee is required to display a copy of the license in a prominent place at the business premises.
In order to impose stiffer punishment to anyone disregarding the Presidential directive and violating the Liquor Licensing Act, the Council has enhanced enforcement of offences to ensure they are prosecuted through courts.
Hence, there is need to adhere without reservation to the precautionary measures put in place by the Ministry of Health and directives by the President in order to safeguard lives of the Solwezi community and the nation at large.
The Council is therefore seeking the cooperation of all business owners in the district by ensuring that provisions of the Liquor Licensing Act are followed to the latter by displaying the Retail Liquor Licenses and selling on take away basis.
The Council is on high alert working with the Zambia Police to ensure that all violators of the law are brought to book and total compliance among business owners thereby safeguard the lives of all.
The case of Mr Tito should therefore serve as a deterrent measure to would be offenders.