Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Gaborone’s only beer garden closes down

Gaborone’s only depot in Bontleng is to be shut down because the leaseholder, Dici.com (Pty) Ltd, is in breach of terms of the agreement. The building is owned by the Gaborone City Council and was rented out to Dici.com in July 2003 to be used as a beer garden. On instructions of management, the Council’s Legal Department has already written Dici.com terminating the lease agreement.
Dici.com has been defaulting on payment and as of last month, its arrears stood at P90 000.

In addition to the arrears, the Council could possibly be owed money on profits that the company has made selling Chibuku at its property. The lease agreement has a clause that entitles the Council to 10 percent of profits made after tax. However, a report prepared by the Council legal advisor, Linchwe Tlhowe, that has been passed to Sunday Standard, says that not once has Dici.com paid out such money.

“… Dici.com has not been disclosing its financial statements to Gaborone City Council and thus Gaborone City Council has never been in a position to know if profit has been made by Dici.com or not. This frustrated the terms of clause 3(a) of the lease agreement, which states that Gaborone City Council is entitled to 10 percent of the profits made after tax,” the report says.

The beer garden is also being closed on the basis of what the report calls ‘public interest.’ The report says (and the police confirm this) that serious complaints have been raised by Bontleng residents concerning the beer garden. Its trading hours not being regulated by any law, the beer garden is open for extended periods of time.

The beer garden’s imminent closure will certainly be welcomed by Urban Police Station as the best Christmas present in a long time.

Officer-in-Charge at the station, Assistant Superintendent, Jameson Baakile, says that they have been fighting for the past four years for the garden to be closed down, primarily because it presents an extraordinary grave policing challenge for them.

“We receive complaints about it almost every day. People are beaten up, mugged and the music played there is too loud. We have met with the owner of the beer garden to express our concerns to him. He was very polite but naturally was inclined to protect his business interests,” Baakile says.
At least one murder case emanating from the beer garden was recorded last year.

The beer garden is not the only place in Bontleng that sells Chibuku but is actually part of a near-contiguous belt of places that offer and do such trade in that part of town. The difference between the beer garden and all other places, Baakile explains, is that following a meeting with shebeen owners, it was agreed that the latter’s operations would close at 10 p.m. There is no such arrangement with the beer garden which, on month end, can operate until the wee hours of the morning.

Baakile says that beer garden patrons returning home that late have proved to be a grave danger to public safety as they terrorise people they meet in the street.

Other than the police and members of the public, GCC councillors have themselves complained about the garden. If it ever operates as a depot again after Dici.com’s lease agreement is terminated, the place would be subject to an upcoming law that would drastically reduce trading hours for Chibuku depots.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.