Law enforcement officers Samuel Festus and Cameron Isaacs with confiscated alcohol at the Ndabeni impound facility in Maitland where the items are stored for three months before being destroyed. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town  - The City of Cape Town is cautiously optimistic about the drop in alcohol confiscations over the festive season. 

The confiscation of alcohol has become a crucial element in the City’s annual festive season operational plan because of the link between alcohol consumption, anti-social behaviour and compromised safety.

According to the festive season road safety report released earlier this week, nearly 60% of road fatalities in South Africa involve alcohol. In Cape Town, alcohol is listed as the second leading cause of fatal drowning incidents.

"These are among the reasons that our Law Enforcement Department, supported by their Metro Police counterparts, place such heavy emphasis on alcohol confiscations. It is for these same reasons that the city conducts a sustained awareness and education campaign to highlight the dangers of alcohol to road users, beachgoers and the public in general," said Mayco Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith.

"Our Liquor Enforcement Unit has collated the statistics for the period 1 December 2018 to 15 January 2019, confirming that 11 389 bottles of alcohol were confiscated, totalling 7299.72 litres."

This represents a 15% drop year-on-year and a near 40% drop from the 2016/17 festive season:

The City of Cape Town revealed that the areas where the Liquor Enforcement Unit has confiscated the most amount of booze over the festive season. Picture: City of Cape Town
The statistics are for the period 1 December 2018 to 15 January 2019, confirming that 7299.72 litres of alcohol in total were confiscated. Picture: City of Cape Town

"The level of enforcement has remained constant year-on-year, although we take into account that the holiday season was notably shorter than previous years and the weather might have been a factor too, particularly on Boxing Day when beach visitor numbers were decidedly lower than usual," added Smith.

"That said, there have been some significant shifts on priority days over the festive season, particularly relating to the switching on of the festive lights, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. I’d like to think that it is no coincidence either that we experienced a sharp reduction in the number of fatal drowning incidents."

By area, the confiscations have followed the overall trend, except at beaches between Table View and Silwerstroom where there was an increase year-on-year. 

Historically, beaches between Macassar and Gordon’s Bay and those on the Atlantic Seaboard have had the highest number of confiscations and, while these areas continue to account for the bulk of confiscations Smith said, there has been a noticeable reduction in both areas.

"The city cannot pinpoint with certainty the reasons behind the shift in trends, but we do welcome it and hope that we can sustain it going forward. Awareness campaigns around this problem have been very prominent over the last few years and one suspects that this has something to do with the higher levels of compliance.

"It appears as though we have finally secured a breakthrough in behaviour, with many persons either leaving the alcohol at home when they head to our public amenities, or not visiting the amenities at all," he said.

"I commend those members of the public who realise the value and importance of an alcohol-free day out. The City enforces the law as vigorously as our resources allow. Our task is made easier by those members of the public who respect the law and hold their own safety in high regard, as well as that of others. For that, we thank them.

"However, we are well aware that many continue to employ any means necessary to have their ‘boozy’ day out. But, our staff are wise to their tricks and will continue to be ever vigilant during their patrols to further entrench the message that we will simply not tolerate drinking in our public spaces."

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