File picture: IANS
File picture: IANS

Western Cape intends to make it more expensive to buy booze with high alcohol percentage

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 23, 2020

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Cape Town – To help combat the ’’war raging in our communities, especially against our women and children’’, Western Cape Premier intends to make it more expensive to buy booze with a high alcohol percentage.

This approach can be effective in preventing binge drinking, Winde said yesterday in outlining a path to recovery for the Western Cape in a special address to the Western Cape parliament.

Minimum unit pricing, which stipulates a floor price for a unit of alcohol, would push up the price of the cheapest products on the market.

He added that the province is considering stricter times for the sale of alcohol, even after the expiry of the National State of Disaster regulations.

Winde highlighted that ’’we need to confront the fact that the Western Cape has a deadly relationship with alcohol that must be urgently addressed’’.

Therefore, the province will be proposing major amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act, which it intends to fast-track, Winde said.

’’Our department of health’s data showed that when alcohol was banned during the hard lockdown and subsequent restrictions, trauma cases in our hospitals came down notably. As soon as the sale of alcohol was allowed again, the number of trauma cases increased almost by the same percentage,’’ Winde said.

’’The causality is as clear as day. We cannot ban alcohol indefinitely: in addition to it being a removal of rights, there would be negative consequences on job creation especially in our poorer, rural areas.

’’But we do need to fundamentally change this deadly relationship if we are to prevent violence in our communities, and this can be done with smart interventions.

’’The Western Cape Government, which has the competency to do so, will therefore propose major amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act, and we would like this to be fast-tracked as an urgent priority.

’’As part of these amendments, I can announce that we have now put ’per-unit-of-alcohol’ pricing firmly on the table for consideration. This will make it more expensive to buy alcoholic beverages with higher alcohol percentages; an approach which evidence suggests can be effective in preventing binge drinking.

’’We will also consider stricter times for the sale of alcohol, even after the expiry of the National State of the Disaster regulations. This tougher approach must be matched with incentives for liquor outlets who do follow the rules.

’’It also requires that we make it less burdensome for unlicensed vendors to become compliant, so that we can eradicate the illegal sale of alcohol in our communities.

’’We must have the courage to get the job done on alcohol. people. This will require both urgent interventions immediately and a medium-term response.

’’Over the medium term, we must have the courage to continue with our government’s first successful moon-shot, the Western Cape Safety plan – despite our financial pressures. There is simply too much at stake.

’’I can therefore confirm that even though we face budget cuts, we will not roll-back on our boots-on-the-ground commitment.

’’The 500 LEAP officers already launched will continue to be deployed to hot-spot crime areas based on evidence and data, and we will stick with our plans to deploy an additional 500 officers thereafter.

’’We will also not walk-back on our commitment that we will halve the provincial murder rate in the Western Cape in a decade.’’

Cape Times

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