Memorandum delivered to Harare SAPS re: Closure of Osawa’s Tavern (6 July 2015)


Re: Osi’s Place Tragedy

SAPS and local and provincial governments to ensure justice and compliance with legislation and building and health and safety standards.

On Saturday 28 June 2015 eight young women tragically lost their lives as a result of a stampede at Osi’s Place in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

It has been reported, and community members have confirmed, that at 3am that morning chaos broke out when the tavern wanted to close. A gunshot in Osi’s Place compounded the situation leading to a stampede through the single first story entrance and onto the staircase of the tavern.

Given the sheer numbers trying to leave the tavern and the bottle-neck created by the single entrance, staircase and a wall and fencing on the ground level, the arm railing of the staircase gave way resulting in patrons falling off the stairs and on to each other. A combination of the impact of the fall and being crushed by the other patrons is what led to the tragic deaths and numerous injuries.

Given this tragic sequence of events, the Social Justice Coalition, and its members from the Makhaza branch in particular, welcome the fact that the liquor-trading license of Osi’s Place has been suspended by an interim order pending the police investigation.

In addition the SJC demands the following steps be taken:

  1. SAPS, and in particular its Designated Liquor Officers (DLOs), The Western Cape Liquor Authority and the Law Enforcement component from the City of Cape Town need to work cooperatively in order to ensure that tragedies like this are avoided in the future.
  1. SAPS in its investigation of this tragedy should endeavour to ascertain who fired a gun, in an already volatile situation, and should bring criminal charges against that individual.
  1. The Western Cape Liquor Authority should permanently revoke Osi’s liquor-license for the tavern’s reported sale of alcohol to minors and for operating outside of the lawful trading hours in a residential area. In addition the license should be revoked because the building housing Osi’s Place is very clearly not fit or safe for purpose.
  1. The City Of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement component, its liquor enforcement unit and its building and health inspectors, need to inspect the 34 other legal on-consumption liquor traders in Khayelitsha as a matter of urgency. Government is unlikely to make inroads into reducing the number of unlicensed liquor outlets in Khayelitsha (currently there are around 1400) if the licensed outlets are perceived to be unsafe.
  1. The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing concluded that the abuse of alcohol is a key driver of violence. It urged the Western Cape Government to consider whether there is a strategy that could be developed to lessen the harms associated with the abuse of alcohol. As the SJC’s work continues in the Joint Forum convened by the Khayelitsha SAPS Cluster, to help realise the recommendations of the Commission, we continue to look to government to take the lead in this instance and others. The SJC remains committed to helping create a safe Khayelitsha.


For comment please contact:

Chumile Sali

071 609 3236

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