MASERU — The days of drinking and bingeing into the wee hours of the morning are over.
The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has launched a crackdown against bars and outlets that operate beyond approved hours.
The crackdown saw These Phooko, the proprietor of Good Times Café — a popular restaurant in central Maseru — spending the weekend in police detention.
He appeared in court on Monday and was slapped with a one-year jail term or an alternative fine of M1 000 after pleading guilty to contravening provisions of the Liqour Licensing Act (1999).
Phooko paid the fine.
LMPS spokesman Phello Mphana said the crackdown was aimed at fighting alcohol-related crime, including murder.
“The police are concerned by the increasing number of murders at drinking places,” Mphana said.
“We have also realised that most drinking places operate beyond authorised hours.”
A fortnight ago a woman died while another was injured in a shootout at Good Times Café.
In another recent incident, the police suspect that two men who were found dead had been involved in a knife fight at a bar in Borokhoaneng, on the outskirts of Maseru.
Scores of people have been stabbed or shot dead around the country in incidents mostly related to alcohol, Mphana said.
On Saturday the police descended on Good Times Café and arrested the upmarket pub’s owner and three of his workers — Sello Lenkoe, Taole Ramochela and Nicodemus Moteuli.
The three employees were set free after appearing in court with their boss on Monday.
The proprietor of a takeaway at the disused filling station near Carlton Centre in central Maseru was also arrested for selling alcohol without a licence.
It could not be established by the time of going to print whether he had appeared before the Magistrates’ Court or not.
“The police managed to arrest the owner of the popular Good Times Café and his three employees,” Mphana confirmed to the Lesotho Times.
“The owner of a restaurant near Carlton Centre in central Maseru was also arrested. He was also not licensed to sell alcohol.”
He added: “The two places were operating after stipulated hours.”
No place in the country, except night clubs, is authorised to sell alcohol after 12 midnight.
Restaurants, like Good Times Café, are licensed to operate from 10am to 12 midnight during the week while on Sundays and holidays they must close by 11pm.
Public bars or taverns are permitted to operate between 10am and 10pm during the week and up to 8pm on Sundays and holidays.
The crackdown by the LMPS is expected to leave scores of fun-lovers in Maseru and around the country gutted.
This comes at a time many night-time revellers have been complaining about the quality of entertainment available especially in the capital.
Liquor licences (operational times)
Public bars/taverns 10am-10pm (during the week); 10am-8pm (Sundays & holidays).
Public bars around town 9am-12am (week), 10am-11pm (Sundays & holidays)
Restaurants 10am-12am (week); 10am-11pm (Sundays and holidays),
Offsales 8am-8pm (week); 8am-2pm (Sundays & holidays).
Clubs 7pm-6am (every day).
Urban hotels 10am-1am (week); 10am-11pm (Sundays & holidays).
Rural hotels 10am-11pm (week); 10am-10pm (Sundays & holidays)
Lodges 10am-11pm (every day).