SA liquor industry calls for alcohol ban to be lifted, requests urgent meeting with government
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Johannesburg - The liquor industry in South Africa has called for the alcohol ban to be lifted while calling on government to urgently meet with them and discuss the impact of last week's riots on the industry.
The liquor industry said over 160 liquor outlets and distribution centres were looted and damaged during violent and deadly riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week, as thousands of people looted shops and caused damage to infrastructure worth billions of rand.
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) chief executive Patricia Pillay said it was calling on government to lift the alcohol ban, saying a continued ban worth threaten the livelihoods of over a million people who are supported by the industry.
In the letter written to Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel, liquor body stakeholders, including BASA, the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) and VINPRO, want to discuss the impact of the ban on the industry as well as the violent events of last week.
“It is estimated that the latest four-week ban has put 9206 jobs in the alcohol industry at risk, with a potential loss of R10.2 billion in taxes and excise duties.
“This follows the three previous bans which resulted in over 7400 jobs lost in the beer industry alone as well as R14.2 billion in lost beer sales revenue and more than R7.8 billion loss in taxes and excise duties,” said Pillay.
The alcohol industry said the ban had caused jobs to bleed, such as at Aegir Brewery, which had initially been able to employ up to 60 people and open a restaurant but was forced to retrench 12 people as a direct consequence of the ban.
Those who remained on the companies’ books were now on short time and short pay. Aegir Brewery owner Rory Lancellas said of the impact: “We went from increasing our staff compliment by fivefold to identifying the most vulnerable staff, who had families and children so that we could prioritize their income over others.
“We cannot sustain this for much longer. I also have children. It’s very hard to watch families go through this.
”Over at the OR Tambo International, the Airport Craft Breweries has halved its staff complement of 100 due to the bans.
Chief brewer Phumelo Marali said the industry had been forced to move back home to Gqeberha.
“The sad thing is that we have elderly people who work in the kitchens as chefs and catering assistants. If our company closes completely, they will not get a job anywhere else, as it is very hard to be hired at the age of 55 or 60.
“The pandemic and alcohol bans have really robbed them of their opportunity to provide for their families,” he said.
The industry said it had chosen to go public after making numerous attempts to meet with the minister, which were all ignored. They said the illicit trade of booze was now worth over R20bn.
“The mass looting of liquor outlets and distributors last week in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has served to boost the illegal sale of alcohol even further, making the current ban even more nonsensical,” said Pillay.
IOL approached the dti for comment but had yet to hear from them.