BOTTLE STORES A MENACE IN HARARE
12 April 2018
. . . they influence drug abuse
. . . prostitutes causing havoc
. . . pollution rampant
People who reside close to shopping centres and members of the public have expressed dismay over the increase in liquor outlets in their communities.
Following concerns over the rapid influx of bottle stores and nightclubs in the capital raised by Harare mayor, Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, H-Metro carried out surveys in different suburbs and from the findings, it seems the increasing liquor outlets are causing more harm than good.
Leisure spots in Harare such as paMereki in Warren Park D and pa Huku in Hillside – which rely heavily on liquor outlets have reportedly exposed the communities near them to crime.
Kennedy Jackson from Hillside said he is shocked by how people blatantly practice public drinking including urinating at their precast walls at paHuku without being arrested by police.
“We all know that public drinking is a crime but it seems the law is exempted from people who spend time at paHuku.
“When a lot of people started coming to the spot, the police used to do some raids where people would get arrested whenever they were seen drinking but it seems public drinking has now been legalised there.
“Nowadays the police rarely come to arrest public drinkers and it leaves us shocked why these things are happening that way,” he said.
Paidamoyo Mujoni of Warren Park also expressed the same sentiments saying public drinking and substance abuse had become the norm at Mereki.
She went on to narrate how young girls including students are being spoiled by men and end up having sex in parked vehicles.
“There are many bars here at Mereki but for some reason people don’t prefer drinking in these bars as most people opt to drink in open space.
“This has been going on for a very long time but it’s surprising because no arrests are made.
“Even law enforcers also come here and you will find them also doing public drinking with everyone else.
“What has also become a cause for concern to me and most people in our community is also how illicit brews and drugs are being sold here.
“It has actually become normal to see people smoking weed here at Mereki or taking BronCleer cough mixture.
“School girls are being spoiled by men who end up having sex with them in parked vehicles and some are renting rooms around Mereki for prostitution,” she said.
Apart from crime involving alcohol and drugs, Malvern Garande from Hillside also expressed how these leisure spots are contributing to the increase of theft in their communities.
“I live at the flats just opposite Hillside Shopping Centre, I am the owner of the apartment but I am now considering letting the flat because my family is now in danger.
“A lot of people come to the shopping centre mainly from Fridays to Sundays and these days are the days that a lot of crime happens in our area.
“Thieves are taking advantage of the hive of activities that will be going on at paHuku and then rob us.
“Personally I have lodged complaints with Braeside police station seeking assistance from them to assist us in dealing with the situation but little has been done so far.
“A lot of house breakings are happening and countless cases are also taking place where people especially women are losing their handbags and laptops to thieves on their way home from work,” he said.
Residents and business operators at Civic Centre shopping centre in Marlborough have expressed concern over noise pollution around the bottle store at the shopping centre.
One of the property owners at the shopping centre who refused to be named said the area in no longer good for business because of the noise that is caused by bottle stores.
“We used to make a lot of money letting out my shop here but it is now very hard to find a tenant because they complain because of the noise that happens here.
“It seems the only people making it businesswise are those running bottle stores and bars here; as for some of us we are out of business.
“Honestly how can you expect to have a surgery or a church here when there is a lot of noise like what happens here?
“Those thriving in their bottle store businesses are doing so at the expense of others and it’s really bad.
“Most liquor outlets operate for 24 hours here and we have tried to engage them to at least reduce volume for just eight hours of our daily working hours but it seems it was too much to ask for,” he said.
Bruce Madondo expressed his concern over how school children are being disturbed from reading books due to noise.
“I was born in Marlborough, it is really sad how people used to do things then and how it’s being done now. It has robbed the suburb of its low density status.
“The noise that happens here has made this area as good as a rural area growth point.
“To some of us who live close by, our kids find it very hard to study and we also find it difficult to concentrate on what we will be doing in our homes or even to just communicate amongst ourselves.
“The issue of noise is not only something that we are worried about; it is something that has even become a health hazard since we are now failing to sleep properly.
Adultery and prostitution is another of the concerns raised by residents who reside closer to PaGomba Leisure Spot in Highfield.
Memory Kachere said prostitution activities happening at PaGomba had led to the breaking up of many families.
“It is so sad that we have quite a number of sex workers who are now conducting their business here.
“This is now putting our lives at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases because our husbands usually spend most of their time there.
“These prostitutes I am talking about are not women who stay in our community; we don’t even know where most of them come from and they have been reaping where they did not sow.
“Our husbands are spending most of their money on them and this is all happening at paGomba and married women driven from far places are seen here clubbing.
“We have countless cases of husbands and wives who are no longer together after the husband left his wife for a prostitute he would have found at pa Gomba.
“We are now afraid that our daughters will end up being influenced into prostitution because some of the people doing it are usually very young girls,” she said.
Due to the demand of commodities such as meat, soft drinks and alcohol, residents close to liquor outlets have expressed concern over high pricing on these commodities.
Gogo Gambiza of Warren Park said she no longer affords meat since butcheries at the spot sell meat at exorbitant prices.
“Businesses here are no longer concerned about providing a service but we feel they are only concerned about making huge profits.
“Meat is so expensive to buy here because most of the people who come to buy meat at these butcheries are big spenders who would have come for braai so they don’t mind spending a lot of money on it.
“The owners of the butcheries would then sell the meat at high prices since it will be on demand; this is really affecting us a lot as residents. We are concerned with having a decent meal.
“Sometimes we end up travelling to faraway places just to buy meat and at times we end up sacrificing buying the meat at those exorbitant prices.
“Apart from meat, we now also find it very hard to afford buying a soft drink, in most places a soft drink is sold for 50cents but here especially from Fridays to Sundays soft drinks will be going for a US$1,” she said.
Residents also expressed health concerns emanating from public drinking urging the City of Harare to closely monitor collection of refuse at these shops saying garbage was risking their lives.
“From time to time our children complain of running stomachs and vomiting and we want to believe it is being caused by garbage left uncollected for some time,” said one of the residents close to a shopping centre.
“Beer drinkers urinate at our precast walls zvekuti mumikoto umu hamufambike nekunhuwirwa neweti yevanhu vakuru,” added the resident.
Meanwhile, Josh Matambo, a beer drinker at Makoni shopping centre said he was concerned with unhygienic conduct at liquor outlets.
“We have heard news that cholera has been detected and I hope the authorities will enforce hygiene at pubs because we are taken advantage of because we will be drunk.
“The sadza that we buy here is not properly cooked and there are rumours that the water used would have been fetched in nearby trenches.
“I also don’t trust some of the meat that is sold to us here, most of it will be rotten meat and the vendors get away with it because we will be drunk.
“My other concern is that bottle stores and night clubs here are no longer taking the responsibility of cleaning their toilets, very few liquor outlets clean their toilets on a regular basis.
“Most of these liquid outlets only focus on profit they no longer care about providing good services for us.
“We are taken advantage of because we will be drunk and this is something that will make diseases like cholera and diarrhea spread,” he said.