Residents of Woodview, Phoenix are up in arms over the opening of a tavern at the Woodview Shopping Complex, where there are three worship sites and a primary school close by. Concerned residents, members of the Woodview Ratepayers Association, councillors, Phoenix SAPS and other stakeholders staged
a mass protest in support of the affected residents on Friday, 9 February. Members of the community condemned a tavern in the area expressing that it will give rise to drugs, prostitution, alcohol abuse, crime, violence and noise pollution.

Speaking to The Phoenix Tabloid, Chairman of Woodview Ratepayers Association, Theo Pillay stated, “The community is adamant that a tavern must not be allowed in our area or in Phoenix. Thousands of petitions were previously submitted to authorities with no feedback. Together with SAPS Phoenix, we have submitted a consolidated report and are still awaiting a response from the Liquor Board. We have now asked the Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer to intervene.”

“Our recent meeting with the body corporate was futile and they have been very evasive yet at our public protest last year, each shop owner supported our cause. We ask ourselves what changed. We posed questions to the body corporate regarding two shops in the complex that have been vacant for almost 3 years and if the Liquour Board granted someone a license, how did they do it and when did it happen – was there even any consultation. Currently, the shopping complex is in a disgusting state, the toilets are unhygienic and the body corporate refuses to give us answers and we say enough is enough, we demand answers,” added Pillay.

A resident in the area for the past 33 years, Siva Naidoo stated, “Previously there was a tavern in the area which was closed down after numerous protests by residents. We refuse to have a tavern at this complex, we know the kind of problems other areas with taverns are experiencing and we don’t want that for our Woodview community. We are not targeting the owner but the business establishment that he’s opening. If he opens any other type of business, he has our full support as the community of Woodview.”

Shobah Singh, secretary and youth co-ordinator at the Woodview Hindu Dharma Sabha, a temple behind the shopping centre added, “When we had a tavern here before, we had a huge problem as the guys would urinate behind which was opposite our eating section in the temple. Being a youth co-ordinator at the temple, I wouldn’t like our youth to be confronted by drugs which would be easily accessible to them. The members of the Woodview Hindu Dharma Sabha together with our chairman are totally against the opening of a tavern in our area.” Phoenix SAPS Station Commander, Brigadier Ndlovu in his address stated, “The Phoenix SAPS supports the community against the opening of the tavern in the area which will contribute to the many social ills already endured by the community of Phoenix.”

Ward Councillor Lyndal Singh said, “Plans for a tavern in the area surfaced 3 years ago and it is in complete disdain of the community that there was no corrective consultation process conducted. The proximity of the tavern to religious sites-mosque, temple and church was also completely ignored. A tavern in the heart of Woodview, especially at a busy shopping centre will attract drugs, prostitution as well as criminal activitiesThe utter disregard that the community was not consulted is an indication that it would have been rejected from the beginning. The DA stands in solidarity with the community and we will ensure that lawfully, the tavern does not open as planned.”

CEO of KZN Liquor Board, Elliott Mtshali said his department would investigate the matter surrounding the community’s complaints. “We will investigate and engage the committee to understand their concerns and explain the circumstances which led to the granting of the license itself. I do want to add that the license was granted long ago in the year 2000 but having said that I would like to sit down with the committee, go through the file to get to the bottom of what really happened and what made the outlet to close shop for some time and re-open now.”

The Woodview Shopping Centre body corporate chairman, Alan Kistnasami was made aware of the situation but was unable to give an official comment to The Phoenix Tabloid at the time of going to print. Memorandums were issued to the eThekwini Department for the attention of the mayor, the KZN Liquor Board and the Woodview Shopping Centre body corporate.