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Durban - South African Breweries (SAB) has announced a R38.4 million investment in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape in partnership with provincial governments to roll out a pilot project that will formalise township taverns and assist alcohol harm-reduction programmes.

The company made the announcement at a meeting with KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Traditional Affairs Sihle Zikalala in Durban yesterday, saying the investment of $1 million (R12.8 million) in KZN was part of a national project.

SAB holding company AB InBev Africa Zone president Ricardo Tadeu said the partnership was aimed at job creation, business development and the improvement of the consumer experience at township taverns as well as driving harm-reduction programmes.

“The objective is helping build communities, generating jobs and fighting alcohol harm. If we can find a good model it can be developed in different regions,” Tadeu said.

He said SAB and the SAB Foundation would search for local entrepreneurs who needed business support and help them formalise their trading conditions.

“We will also study ways of organising traders to make sure they have accessibility to products in the best commercial conditions. We want consumers in townships to have the same safe conditions that the consumers in more affluent areas have, such as adequate lighting and security,” Tadeu said.

“We are going to hire people from communities and make sure we train tavern owners so they are compliant with the current liquor regulations.”

Zikhalala welcomed the investment, saying it would assist the government to formalise, regulate and support the informal trade and conscientise tavern owners to abide by the law.

Tavern owners who were found to be breaking the law by not abiding by permitted trading hours, operating near schools and selling alcohol to children under 18 years old would face legal penalties and possible closure, he said.

Zikhalala said it was likely that KwaMashu and uMlazi would initially be targeted for investment.

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“We can’t allow a situation where our society is ruined by alcohol, so regulations are important.

“But we will extend a hand and work with industry. If they are to sustain their industry in the best interests of our country, it is important that they promote our interests, support our industry and ensure that children are not affected by abuse of alcohol,” he said.

Zikhalala said further details of the project rollout still had to be discussed internally.

KZN Liquor Authority chief executive Elliot Mashile said the authority appreciated the fact that the industry was investing profits to reduce alcohol harm and to support local entrepreneurs.

“We really appreciate the investment they are putting into the liquor traders to ensure they are properly educated to understand the requirements of the law, also ensuring they abide by the legal requirements.

“We will ensure that there is value in the money they put into the liquor industry,” he said.

Mashile said some of the funding had already been made available to set up a call centre in the province to assist liquor traders, prospective liquor licence applicants and members of the public who wanted to lodge complaints about non-compliant taverns.

The call centre is still in the planning stages.

Commission for Gender Equality commissioner Mbuyiselo Botha welcomed the investment, saying it was important to include focus on educating men and boys on non-violence and non-aggressive behaviour towards women.

“It will go a long way to ensure that taverns are a safe space for women, who more often than not become sexually violated in such places. One of the blind sides of organisations like SAB is that they don’t ensure there is sustainable educational work with men and boys who are perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual violence after imbibing alcohol,” Botha said.

“We need visionary education. That money could be part of it, to make sure there is a school programme that could augment what schools are doing.”


Correction: In the article with the headline “SAB invests R38.4 million to help township taverns”, which appeared on March 29, it was reported that SAB had formed partnerships with different provinces. SAB has pointed out that no formal partnerships have been signed with the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal governments to deliver pilot projects formalising township taverns and assisting with alcohol harm reduction programmes, as was reported. Discussions between the parties are still at a preliminary stage. The error is regretted.