The management of Zoom Night Club in Maruapula has come out strongly to defend the club against accusations of criminal activities that take place outside their club.
Lately, the club has been facing accusations of being an eyesore to the public and of attracting criminal elements in the area. However, in an interview with The Telegraph, the owner of Zoom Night Club, Steve Raman, pointed out that he was in actual fact the first one to complain to the authorities about illegal activities that take place outside his club. Raman says he has tried everything he can to curb the lawlessness that takes place outside his club but his efforts have been frustrated by lack of support from authorities.
Raman says while he has no legal control over what happens outside his club, he has in the past hired the services of private security guards to patrol the parking lot but they were eventually outnumbered by the thugs who terrorize people who hang outside the club and who are, in any case, not his responsibility.
Raman showed this publication a trail of copies of letters he wrote to the By-law officers at the Gaborone City Council (GCC), the Botswana Police, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Office of the President. In the letters, some dating as far back as 2009, Raman sought the assistance of relevant authorities to help curb the illegal selling of alcohol by vendors purporting to sell food, airtime and cigarettes outside his club. He also complains of public alcohol consumption and the playing of loud music from cars in the parking lot. Raman says there has been no response to all his complaints until recently when he was called to a meeting by GCC regarding complaints by Maruapula residents and business people in the complex.
To his surprise, Raman says he found that the complaints raised by the residents were the same complaints he had been querying about for the past five years, except that the residents put the blame on his night club without appreciating that he has no full control over what happens outside the club. Raman says he makes sure that patrons are safe while inside his club and he has employed several bouncers who also make sure no underage patrons are allowed entry into the club. His club is fitted with sound-proof material to ensure that the noise is contained and not heard from outside. The club also has ablution facilities, and as such, revelers do not have to go outside and relieve themselves in public.
He puts the blame squarely on street vendors who illegally sell alcohol outside the club which results in their customers relieving themselves in the parking lot and playing loud music from their cars.
“They operate in the parking lot where there are no ablution facilities and security personnel and when their customers are robbed and when they urinate in the parking lot the blame is put on the night club,” Raman added.
He said that he is surprised that the police never bother to arrest people who drink in the public parking lot and play loud music, with some even bringing camping chairs to chill and drink outside the club. He says he doesn’t run his club from the parking lot and, as such, the police should take action against those who engage in illegal activities outside the club.
He says as far as he knows, drinking in public is a punishable offence in Botswana and, as such, he doesn’t understand why the police seem to condone it even as it is clear it attracts criminal elements to the club’s parking lot. Raman is of the view that he can easily handle the situation inside his club if the by-law and police officers can take care of the illegal ‘festivals’ that take place from outside the club. Raman says he has offered to help the police but his efforts fell on deaf ears. He says he proposed to the Botswana Police to set up a satellite porta cabin policing facility and he was willing to finance the purchase of the porta cabin as part of giving back to the community.
He also questioned the seemingly selectiveness by the police when it comes to closing down clubs. Raman says while the police always storm into his club way before closing time and ordering them to close down, some night clubs in the outskirts of Gaborone are known to operate beyond legal hours of operation with some closing as late as 5am. Raman says it is unfair of people to think the solution to the crime in Maruapula is to close the night club. He says his club is licensed and follows the requirements of the Liquor Act.
Raman employs close to hundred people in his clubs in Gaborone, Lobatse, and Molepolole and will be opening another club in Mahalapye in the next two weeks.