Durban - From this weekend citizens of KwaZulu-Natal can buy a bottle of wine, a case of beer, or a bottle of whisky on a Sunday without having to look for a back-alley liquor store.

Today marks the commencement of the New Liquor Act for the province which allows the sale of alcohol on a Sunday.

“The reality is that the 1989 legislation banned the sale of alcohol on Sundays, not for the greater good of the community, but in furtherance of narrow sectarian and religious interest,” said the MEC for Economic Development And Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu, yesterday.

He was joined by members of the KZN Liquor Authority and industry stakeholders to officially announce the implementation of the act.

“The measures in the act are sufficient for the proper regulation of the sale of alcohol in the province,” he said.

The act includes a new licensing application process.

“Unlike the old act, the new act calls for direct community participation in the licensing process,” said Mabuyakhulu.

Communities would be allowed to comment on applications, and all premises within 100m of the proposed outlet must be given notice of an intention to apply for the licence.

“Another departure is that that licences will not automatically be renewed each year. The licensee is required to make an application to the Liquor Authority six months prior to the expiry,” he said.

Establishments holding liquor licences, within 500m of schools and religious institutions, and stores franchised to service stations, have three years to relocate to comply with the new act.

The head of South Africans Against Drunk Driving, Caro Smit, was “very disappointed” with the new act’s allowances.

“The rest of the country is decreasing its hours and we’re extending them.” said Smit.

“At the moment, the province’s worst car crashes happen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is going to make the problem worse.” - The Mercury