A GROUP of residents in Harare’s middle income suburb of Avondale has approached the High Court seeking an order to force authorities to shut down a night spot that they argue is illegal and dangerous to their community.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Led by businessman Kelvin Kowo. the residents took Vifra Enterprises — operating as the popular Casa Mia restaurant — situated along King George Road to court. They cited Harare’s director of health and works responsible for building inspections, the liquor licensing board as well as the police licensing inspectorate as respondents.
Kowo said he took the initiative to investigate the circumstances surrounding the setting up of the night spot after his neighbours professed ignorance about its legality.
He unearthed a restaurant liquor licence and a health registration certificate issued by the Liquor Licensing board and city health director respectively.
“I was not satisfied with the authenticity of the two documents and went on to check with responsible authorities in order to establish whether these documents were genuine,” said Kowo.
In his founding affidavit, Kowo said that despite the police licensing inspectorate insisting the documents were legitimate, his investigations had established they were fake.
Kowo’s lawyer Steven Rugwaro of Rugwaro and Associates, argued that the operations of Casa Mia were “therefore illegal”.
“Investigations and enquiries with the Liquor Licensing Board, Harare City’s Department of Health and Works, have indicated that the premises are not registered and any certificates displayed therein are forgeries,” Rugwaro said in the September 18 letter.
On September 23, an Inspector J Masawi from the police license inspectorate absolved Casa Mia of any illegality in response to the complaint.
“The team [police] observed that Vifra Enterprises T/A Casa Mia is operating a restaurant with a valid liquor licence number LLB 12520RS15/1 which expires on 30th June 2016,” Masawi said.
This was followed by another letter, this time from an sssistant commissioner LM Njodzi, confirming the same licence was indeed valid.
Council chamber secretary Josephine Ncube in a letter to the registrar of the High Court on October 7 indicated that authorities would not oppose the application.
“As such, 2nd and 3rd respondents should not be made to bear the costs of the suit,” said Ncube.
“As if this was not enough, the chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board identified as J Murombedzi in a letter to Rugwaro said Casa Mia was using a bakery licence.
“The licence you attached for a shop at Avondale shopping centre was known as Italian Bakery, this is the one which appears [to have] temporarily moved to 100 King George.
“We do not administer Part 1 licences. Indeed, they submitted an application which found there was no letter of no objection and the health report was not for that stand, hence the application did not succeed,” Murombedzi said, adding his board regulated the issuing of licences but the enforcing was done by police.
Rugwaro said Casa Mia, meanwhile, continued to operate while the High Court case was “pending”.