Lavays legal after years of ‘playing hide and seek’

Lungiswa Bonda is a happy woman now that she is no longer hiding from police.

If you are looking for a place to eat and spoil yourself during this festive season, the Lavay’s Good Food in Mandela Park, Khayelitsha is the right place.

The need for peace and tranquillity combined with the love of food is what led Lungiswa and her son James Bonda to open the eatery.

In 2019 son James decided to stop working and assist his mother at her liquor business. While the son wanted something that was going to grow, his mother was afraid to run a big business that may attract criminals.

But Mama Bonda was running an unlicensed shebeen which got the name Lavay from the friends.

After years of hide and seek from the police, the place was spotted by foot soldiers of SupplyPal, a project of Distell that helps small and unlicensed businesses to grow and get licences.

They approached Mama Bonda and advised her to legalise her business by attending workshops and mentoring sessions with them. The result was the new Lavay Good Food that sells delicious – but no alcohol. On Wednesday October 26, the place was officially opened to masses and launched in front of the media.

At the event the excited mother said while her illegal shebeen had not been profitable, it had helped put food on the table for her and her three sons.

“I am excited about this progress,” she said. “When they advised me I was reluctant but trusted them. They helped me with a lot of things, (including) renovations, cutlery, deep fridge, chips fryer and many other things. I am not complaining because the business is now legal. Finally the spot has been formalised,” she said.

The equally excited son added that the family had been planning to remodel and rebrand when the time was right. “I always have aspirations and ambition to grow a family business even though my mother was reluctant and scared of robberies and burglaries. This house has been a business house. At some point I ran events here like PlayStation games and podcast shooting. But we also sold food so those who are at the events can buy and eat. I am happy with the new developments,” he said.

Now people of Khayelitsha can call or use an app to order food or come sit down and eat.

Zukiswa Gaqavu, Distell’s project manager said her department was encouraging business people have their establishments licenced.

“For us it is not about alcohol. Yes we assist shebeens with licensing but if they can get the licence we also direct them elsewhere. We have converted so many shebeens who are no longer selling liquor. We assist in job creation. This is an example of that. There is zoning that many people do not know or understand. Those are people that we convert their business to something sustainable,” she said.

Mother and son preparing pizza for the customers.
Mama Lavay, as she is affectionately known preparing a barbecue.