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Pub owner finally manages to open case against cops after booze seized during lockdown

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File image. Picture: Tracey Adams African News Agency

THE OWNERS of a Pretoria East pub and restaurant have finally managed to open a case against police officers who confiscated their entire stock of alcohol during lockdown, and only returned some of it.

One of the owners of Padstal, Mark Eybers said initially he had battled to open a case of theft against the Silverton police, as he alleged that they were part of the team who took the alcohol.

But he has since managed to do so, and the SAPS is now investigating its own officers in the case of the missing booze.

Eybers said the matter was in the hands of the SAPS and his lawyers, but he wanted either his alcohol stock or his money back.

The Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, last month ordered that the police immediately return the alcohol which was held in store at the Silverton police station.

The order followed an urgent application by the owners of Padstal in Equestria, after the police swooped on the spot on July 15, during level 3 of the lockdown regulations.

The sale of alcohol was still prohibited at the time.

While the police did adhere to the court order and returned the alcohol, it was claimed that it was only a fraction of what was confiscated.

Eybers and his lawyer Jack Gerber were this week calculating the loss and, according to Eybers, the police removed alcohol worth about R215 000 from their storeroom and only returned about R60 000 worth.

Eybers said his establishment was closed for five months, and the alcohol they had was being kept in a storeroom to use once things were allowed to open up again.

Problems started when the police arrested an employee of Padstal for allegedly selling two bottles of brandy to a patron which was against the regulations.

The two bottles were seized by the police and charges of contravening the lockdown regulations were instituted against the employee. These charges are still pending before court.

The police, however, without a search warrant, entered the restaurant where they searched for more alcohol in a storeroom. They then decided to confiscate the entire stock.

The owners of Padstal said their stock had never formed part of any contravention of the lockdown regulations, as it was merely being kept in the stockroom and not being sold.

Eybers told the Pretoria News that none of the owners had been present on the day in question, and they did not know about the two bottles of brandy which were allegedly sold.