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KwaZulu-Natal is pushing ahead with a new liquor law allowing booze to be sold on a Sunday, despite a turn-around by Gauteng, which says liquor is the number one generator of crime in the province.
Gauteng is the only province which currently sells liquor on a Sunday.
Once fully implemented, the KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Licensing Act – passed last year after seven years in the making – would allow for the sale of liquor on Sundays.
The Gauteng provincial government was reconsidering its liquor legislation – a move that could result in a ban on the sale of liquor on Sundays and public holidays.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s spokeswoman, Matlakala Motloung, said the premier would address the issue in her budget speech on Thursday.
Calling liquor the biggest factor in crime in the province, Mokonyane said the sale of alcohol generally was killing the moral fibre of society.
In April, she was quoted as saying: “We are finalising the review of the liquor regulations in Gauteng. “The proliferation of liquor outlets is the number one generator of crime. We want to say bottle stores must close on Sunday. Let’s have a break.
“Go to church or go to a jazz club. We also want to close outlets within 500m of public facilities (like schools).”
Despite opposition to the new KZN liquor regulations, the provincial government said it was not reviewing these.
Bheko Madlala, the spokesman for the Department of Economic Development in KZN, said the provincial government had given itself until next year to prepare for the implementation of the liquor act.
He said the government was setting up mechanisms that would make the implementation of the act possible.
These include appointing a new liquor board and setting up committees in communities.
Asked about the review of Gauteng’s liquor legislation, he said: “Provinces have what we call concurrent competence on liquor.”
This means that there is no national legislation on liquor trading and that provinces can draw up their own legislation on this.
“But also, this legislation is a final product of public participation.
“Legislation is informed by conditions of the time, and should there come a time when communities feel that conditions require a review of the legislation, we would listen, because this is a government that listens,” said Madlala.
He said critics should read the act in its entirety and “not be cherry-picking” on certain aspects of it.
“Let us not read one clause in isolation from the legislation.
“It should also be noted that this legislation gives communities a greater say on the granting of licences.”
Caro Smit, director and founder of the non-profit organisation South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), said the move to have liquor sold on Sundays was a bad idea.
“Knowing what a strong contributing factor alcohol is in incidents of rape, assault and domestic violence, it really is going a step backwards,” Smit said.
One of the most important ways to limit how much alcohol is sold and consumed is to limit trading hours.
She also said Sadd was lobbying for the legal drinking age to be increased from 18 to 21 to limit how many people could legally obtain alcohol.
Large retailers said they would open for business on Sundays once the act was implemented.
Spar Liquor manager Ray Edwards said: “We will trade within the liquor laws.
“So, yes, if our customers want to buy, we can’t chase them away and let the competition have the upper hand.”
This was echoed by Chris Hemsey, the director of Liberty Liquors.
“Bars and pubs open on Sunday; why shouldn’t we be open on a Sunday?”
Additional reporting by Zamathenjwa Nene and Kamcilla Pillay – Daily News