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Durban - While Gauteng contemplates a total ban on Sunday alcohol sales, KwaZulu-Natal is one step away from allowing liquor stores to open.
The chief executive of the KZN Liquor Authority, Stella Khumalo, said the move was in line with the constitution which recognised the country as a secular state, and that the existing Sunday ban was a remnant of the previous regime.
“It was prohibited because Sunday was regarded as the Sabbath, based on a national Christian state,” she said.
The new provincial Liquor Act was awaiting final amendments before it was passed.
“The envisaged date for this is April 1, but this is highly unlikely,” Khumalo said, adding that it would come into effect in the second quarter.
The provincial department of economic development had pioneered the changes in legislation, Khumalo said.
Conversely, the Gauteng Economic Development Department was debating a total ban on alcohol sales on Sundays.
Gauteng MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile told the media on Sunday there would be a meeting this week to finalise recommendations on the proposal after it had come under heavy criticism from consumers and traders.
According to The Mercury’s sister paper The Star, the department had received 122 submissions since initiating public consultation on the matter.
At present, bottle stores are open on Sundays in Gauteng.
Reaction to the change in the liquor law in KwaZulu-Natal has been mixed.
Andrew Layman, the chief executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said the move would be popular among retailers and consumers.
“From a consumer point of view it is irritating if you want to buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday and (you) can’t,” he added.
The Director of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), Caro Smit, objected, saying many people already drank heavily on Sundays, and extended trading hours would see consumption increase.
“It is well known that many South Africans drink inappropriately,” she said.
“This means they will be going to work on Mondays, and possibly driving their vehicles to work, in an intoxicated state,” she said.
Smit said the organisation was “completely against extending trading hours for liquor sales in KZN, and for selling liquor on Sundays”.