Johannesburg - The official opposition has warned the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) that the Liquor Amendment Bill, which seeks to hold manufacturers liable for offences that take place in unlicensed pubs and shebeens, was flawed.
DA spokesman Dean Macpherson said yesterday that the bill would have serious implications for the government and unintended consequences in increasing the age limit from 18 to 21 years.
The department was in Parliament last week to brief the portfolio committee on trade and industry on the bill.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced in September that the bill was out for public comment until December 1.
Macpherson said the DA had noted some serious flaws in the bill, and they had a number of reservations.
He said it would be difficult to hold manufacturers liable for offences that were committed in shebeens and unlicensed pubs, as the department would find it difficult to prove a case that happened in these areas.
The bill also restricts the advertising of alcohol on television and radio, public places and residential areas.
The government has complained that road accidents cost the state more than R40 billion a year.
“The DA supports legislation which reasonably extends strict and vicarious liability for harm and/or damages resulting from the abuse of alcohol, as already provided for in common law, to liquor retailers,” the DA said.
“The DA does not support extending liability to manufacturers where liquor is found in an illegal or unlicensed establishment.
“Shebeens do not necessarily acquire liquor directly from manufacturers and stock could be procured through wholesalers and retailers.”
They back the bill that extends liability to retailers who sell alcohol to already drunk people.
Macpherson warned though that it would be difficult for the department to hold manufacturers liable for the actions of drunk people in a shebeen or unlicensed pub.
He also said increasing the drinking age limit from 18 to 21 would not be a deterrent, but it could increase the number of underground liquor traders.
He said many illegal trading places would mushroom.
“The government will not have the capacity to enforce this law,” Macpherson said. “A number of amendments were required to align the bill with existing laws and resources of the state.”
Davies was adamant that the bill was not unique and many countries were restricting alcohol sale and consumption to clamp down on accidents and other incidents caused by alcohol.
He had said the government had done everything necessary to ensure the bill complied with the constitution and other existing laws.
“The government would not watch while many people perished on the road because of alcohol. More serious measures were needed to curb the abuse of alcohol,” he said.