CASE NOTE: Illegal sales of alcohol and asset forfeiture
The Constitutional Court recently confirmed an order for the forfeiture of a house from which an unlawful shebeen had been run for years (Van der Burg and Another v National Director of Public Prosecutions).In deciding whether to confirm the order of the full bench of the High Court, Justice van der Westhuizen, writing for a unanimous court, addressed the following questions: whether the house was an instrumentality of an offence; whether the illegal sale of alcohol is an organised crime; the proportionality of the crime to the forfeiture under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998 (the POCA); as well as the impact of the forfeiture on the rights of the children that lived in the house. This judgment comes at a time where issues such as the proposal for the reduction of the legal limit of alcohol for drivers to 0%2 are topical, and seems to point to a tougher stance towards the sale and consumption of alcohol in South Africa. The judgment may therefore be seen as a warning that the illegal sale of alcohol and running of a shebeen will no longer be seen as business as usual in cases where the seller does not heed the call to desist such business.
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