Members of the Western Cape Liquor Traders Organisation (WCLTO) from all over the province were invited to one of Khayelitsha’s most iconic clubs, the Rands, on Wednesday to be encouraged to get vaccinated.
The Rand’s famous dance floor was turned into a makeshift pulpit for speakers to really get hard on the anti-vaccinators, even when load shedding disrupted.
The outgoing WCLTO secretary, Lifa Mapila, said the move is part of a general push to drive up vaccination rates among their consumers who regularly attend their taverns and clubs and liquor traders themselves. “This is also to show the government that as liquor traders we are supporting its call. This is also to show that as traders we are responsible enough. We are encouraging our people to vaccinate, so they can tell their consumers to do so too,” he said.
The drive was partially disrupted by load shedding but generators were organised so that the message could be passed on to everyone. It looked like those who packed the Rands full to capacity accepted the call. Traders applauded the speakers throughout although some had questions about alleged police harassment and brutality. Leaders were able to answer where they could but stuck to the topic of the day. “We are in agreement with our people that we are harassed probably because of our own doing at times. But the message for now is clear: people need to vaccinate, they need to encourage the consumers to do so too. This is our industry, so we want people to trade responsibly. We will carry on this drive until people know what to do,” Mr Mapila said.
Mr Mapila warned those traders who are anti-vax to keep their views to themselves. “We know people have views on the issue but we would encourage those anti-vax individuals to keep their views to themselves. All we want is people to be vaccinated. Do not badly influence them. We know many would trust their traders more than what is said by the government,” he said.
Lucky Ntimane, National Liquor Trader Council co-ordinator and SRC members of the University of Cape Town also joined the gathering.
Mr Ntimane promised to take some of the traders’ issues with the government and sit down with members of the government.
WCLTO president, Allan Samuels, also urged traders to ensure that their children who qualify are receiving the vaccine to protect them against Covid.
He stressed that the vaccine has the power to protect all. “I hope the people absolutely understand the importance of protecting themselves. In our areas we are the most vulnerable. That means we need to be protected. As this organisation, that’s what we are doing now,” he said.