TYCOON Kenny Kunene and his business partner Gayton McKenzie are running their plush Cape Town nightclub like an unlicensed shebeen, city politicians said.
Whisky costs up to R200 a shot and cocktails R50 a pop at ZAR in Cape Town.
The club ruffled feathers when, at its opening in January, it featured bikini-clad girls covered in sushi and draped over sports cars.
Special guest Julius Malema told partygoers: "Helen Zille will not close ZAR at 2am like she does to other clubs in Cape Town."
This week, five months later, it has emerged that the club is operating without:
A liquor licence;
An entertainment licence; or
A business licence that allows for the serving of food.
And complaints over noisy antics at the club, housed at the five-star Cape Royale Hotel in Green Point, are pouring in.
Police have already fined the hotel and ZAR for contravening liquor laws.
Kunene insisted the club was trading under the auspices of licences held by the hotel. This is not the case, according to the city council, which argues that the hotel and ZAR are two separate entities.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security Jean Pierre Smith said: "The only difference between ZAR and an ordinary shebeen is this dispute. We can't just go in guns blazing, we first need to get to the bottom of this."
On Friday McKenzie extended an olive branch, lauding the city's liquor board as "helpful and efficient".
"We are very respectful of the laws of Cape Town. We want to keep employing people in Cape Town and drawing ZAR fans to the city. We will do everything required," he said.
"As for the licences, we began trading ... based on a number of assumptions, which have since been challenged. As a result we are now resolving all these matters with the liquor board. All other legal matters are also being resolved."
On Wednesday evening staff and customers at the club seemed oblivious of the legal storm over ZAR.
Patrons paid a cover charge to gain access to a "Battle of the Divas" bash - with platters of meatballs, cupcakes, fruit skewers and flutes of rose-coloured bubbly up for grabs at the neon-lit bar.
Nathan Ladegourdie, assistant chief of the city's liquor enforcement and compliance unit, said further steps would be taken, depending on the outcome of the next council and police inspection of ZAR.
"We phoned in a few weeks ago to inform them that there were noise complaints. The noise complaints will be taken into account when they apply for the entertainment licence."
The hotel's marketing manager, Kim Cochrane, said it had been their "understanding" that ZAR was covered by the hotel's liquor licence.
In the interim, ZAR's management was in the process of submitting all the required applications to the relevant authorities, she said.