Durban - In light of the deaths of 21 young people at Enyobeni tavern in East London, the KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Authority (KZNLA) has vowed to impose heavy penalties on liquor traders who violate their licence conditions.
The KZNLA said it had strengthened its relationship with the Provincial Prosecuting Authority in an attempt to ensure that all cases in respect of the KZN Liquor Licensing Act were prosecuted.
“The Prosecuting Authority is now working together with the KZNLA and the SAPS to conduct further training to ensure that cases are court-ready in order to secure convictions. Furthermore, the KZNLA works with the municipality to ensure compliance with all by-laws and all relevant legislations in KZN,” said Nomthandazo Dlamini, the authority’s acting communications manager.
Dlamini said when licensed traders were found to be non-compliant during inspections, liquor inspectors issued them with formal compliance notices and also educated them on how to comply with the law.
She highlighted that if there was persistent non-compliance, the licence holder concerned was summoned to the Liquor Authority for a hearing which may result in the licence being cancelled.
“While KZNLA Inspectors work around the clock to ensure these perpetrators are brought to book, we are heavily reliant on the community to blow the whistle on these outlets.”
Recent statistics from a crime-prevention institution show that the liquor authority has a lot to be worried about as it revealed the levels that children in KZN consume alcohol.
The South African National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) recently conducted a survey in KwaMashu that showed that 32% of children admitted that they drank alcohol and that 58% of their friends also did.
Chief executive of Nicro, Betzi Pierce, said this is a proxy indicator of children drinking alcohol because a child may withhold information about themselves but feel free to answer more honestly about their peers.
“So, this data indicates that children most likely under-reported their own consumption of alcohol. We also saw a pattern of increased alcohol consumption as peers get older,” she added.
Nicro said, unfortunately, society had largely normalised the use of alcohol by children and, in many cases, didn’t see it as a major problem. However, the reality was that it impacts on the normal development of a child in terms of their brain development as well as on their physical and behavioural development.
“It impacts on a child’s emotional well-being and mental health, impulse control and decision making, and opens the door to high-risk behaviour which includes a wide range of risks such as general substance abuse, promiscuity, putting themselves in dangerous situations and criminal involvement,” said Pierce.
The South African National Aids Council’s Civil Society Forum shares Nicro’s sentiments, saying the incident that took place in Enyobeni did not only affect the youth, but was a manifestation of deep societal ills that could only be addressed by all key players working together, from parents, communities and community guards, to peers, civil society sectors and the government.