Pinelands will stay dry

A rumour circulated on social media last week that the Pick n Pay in Pinelands would be adding a liquor store has been denied by the retail chain.

The Pinelands 531 Facebook group drew numerous comments, ranging from angry to humourous, after a group member queried whether there was any truth to the rumour.

Pinelands traditionally is a “dry” area, with no liquor stores in the suburb. Some residents felt a liquor store would be bad for the area, attracting vagrants and crime.

However, Pick n Pay spokeswoman Tamra Veley said “Pick n Pay has no such plans for a liquor licence in Pinelands”.

Ward 53 councillor Brian Watkyns was also unaware of Pick n Pay applying to add a liquor store. He said the suburb’s dry status was due to the community view which had been expressed “since the 1950s”.

“I also spoke to the assistant manager who confirmed that there will be no liquor store,” he said.

“However, he indicated that they will be including a clothing area in the revamped store. The existing Pick n Pay Clothing Store in the separate shop will remain,” Mr Watkyns said.

“It seems strange that they will have two clothing outlets in the mall. Is it possible that they want to change the separate store into a liquor store?”

He said the first application to sell liquor had been in the early 1950s.

“Restaurants such as Magica Roma only got their licences in about the late 80s I think.

“I can confirm that in the past Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Spar and the old 7-Eleven cafe all applied or were able to a get ‘generic licence’ but stopped due to public pressure. There is a gentlemen’s agreement that they will only consider stocking liquor if there is another liquor retail outlet.

“The Howard Centre (in which Pick n Pay is housed) also floated the idea of a boutique wine shop a few years ago, but the idea got no further.

“When the centre was owned by the Cape Municipal Fund, the fund did not allow off-consumption liquor to be sold. However, once it was sold to Atlas between 2002 and 2006, it was public pressure that stopped the liquor being retailed.”

Pinelands police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Helene Mouton also confirmed that no application for a Pick n Pay liquor store had been received, nor had any other retail chain applied for such a licence in recent years.

On the Facebook group’s newsfeed, some residents were quick to link alcohol use to vagrancy.

Julie Hansen Christiansen said: “It’s not the people of Pinelands consuming alcohol that is the problem; it’s the bad element that hangs around outside a liquor outlet. Pinelands already has a huge problem with vagrants, and you just have to go and see what it looks like at Central Square and at the bowls club.

“The ‘squatter camp’ is growing by the day! Throw a liquor outlet in the mix … disaster.”

This view was supported by Janet Joos, who wrote that all Garden City suburbs were not allowed to sell alcohol to the public.

“Businesses such as social clubs and restaurants may apply for a liquor license but then the alcohol is to be consumed on the premises and may not be removed from there,” she said.

“Yes, liquor stores do bring bad elements, especially vagrants and then having to put up with their drunken and disorderly behaviour. I doubt that PnP will get it right as Pinelands, Fish Hoek and Edgemead are strictly no-bottle store zones. Someone tried to apply for a licence to open a liquor store in Fish Hoek and their application was turned down by the council.”

However, not everyone agreed with these sentiments.

For Taryn Nutt the vagrant and poverty problem went “ way beyond a bottle store or two in a suburb”.

“Middle to upper class suburbias in Cape Town need to wake up and stop living in a bubble. This NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome is disturbing. Yes, we pay higher rates and all want our nice areas to stay that way – nice and crime-free.

“Keeping out the ‘poverty problem’ from plus-minus 30 percent of our ‘picturesque city’, does not stop the reality of the 70 percent of Capetonians who do not have the luxury of squabbling over an area being ‘dry’.

“They really have bigger issues, which the ‘City that works for you’ is not addressing.”

She cited gang violence leading to the deaths of children, schools and healthcare facilities not being up to standard, dirty public spaces and dilapidated roads.

“So please, ‘Pinelands old boys club’, wake up, and get a reality check! This just all seems so petty and insignificant in the whole scheme of things,” she said.

Other group members like Warren Manuel , took the opportunity to have some fun with the topic.

“It’s winter everyone, a little red wine before bedtime is not a bad thing, and even better if I don’t have to drive ‘circles’ to get it.

“Worse case scenario less traffic peak time on Friday afternoons at Sunrise Circle as cars fill up the roads to Tops for some wine etc… to deal with all the stress the Pinelands 531 comments have caused during the working week… lol.”