Years of hard work and dedication finally paid off for the Athlone Police on Wednesday (7 June 2006), when they brought the Asset Forfeiture Unit one step closer to seizing a shebeen in the area.
The owner was served with a Preservation of Property Order, the last step before a property is seized by the State. The shebeen's owner has 14 days from the date of the order in which to give notification of his intent to oppose the order, or parts of it.
The shebeen, located near a church, school and the railway line, is the third property to be served with such an order in the past two months by the Athlone Police. According to the police, it has been a problematic residence for many years. "We issued them with various warnings and also conducted 49 operations at the premises over the past few years. They did not adhere to our warnings and that is why further action needed to be taken," a police officer said.
Before they could serve the Preservation of Property Order, the police had to produce sufficient evidence to prove that the property was being used "for the proceeds of unlawful activities".
A High Court can also include in the order, an order that allows the police to seize certain items on the property. People's Post arrived at the scene at the same time as the police, Andre van Heerden from the Asset Forfeiture Unit, and the Deputy Sheriff of the Wynberg Magistrate's Court for the East Area.
Van Heerden served the almost 10 cm-thick order on the property owner and gave his wife a copy of it for reviewing. He also explained to the owner that he had the right to seek legal advice.
An undisclosed amount of alcohol, two refrigerators and one freezer were seized from the property. "The State has issued this order with the intention of having the goods declared as State property on the basis that alcohol has been illicitly traded from these premises," Van Heerden says. He believes that such procedures "make a significant impact on the community, as the State is seen to be taking crime seriously".
"In cases where goods are forfeited to the State, the proceeds of these goods are used to further the fight against crime," Van Heerden explains.