Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu File picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu will launch the annual festive season anti-substance and alcohol abuse campaign in Paarl, north of Cape Town on Saturday, the department said.

As South Africans head into a full-swing festive season, holiday celebrations and parties were ramping up. During this time of the year, excessive alcohol consumption and illicit drug use caused untold miseries to many households. This was also the time of the year that young people engaged in binge and underage drinking, which often led to unprotected sexual encounters, the department said in a statement.

It was estimated that government spent R37.9 billion a year on alcohol-related crimes, violence, and accidents. South Africa was ranked in the top three countries in the world on alcohol consumption.

In an effort to combat this festive season phenomenon, Bogopane-Zulu would launch the annual festive season anti-substance and alcohol abuse campaign in Paarl, the department said.

"Given its location in the wine farming areas of the Western Cape and the notorious dop system, Paarl is one of the areas with an excessive alcohol consumption, fuelling domestic violence and high levels of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders."

During the launch of the campaign, Bogopane-Zulu would also visit local liquor outlets and taverns in Stellenbosch and Khayamandi to interact with patrons and owners, as well as to monitor compliance with the norms and standards of the National Liquor Act. 

The campaign, under the theme “Building a community that is free of alcohol and drug abuse”, seeks to educate the public, particularly young people, about the harmful effects of alcohol and drug abuse. The campaign was also aimed at parents and adults about the active role they could play in fostering an alcohol and drug-free festive season in communities throughout South Africa.

The campaign would run until February 2019, targeting, among others, institutions of higher learning, pregnant women, and primary caregivers to children and persons with disabilities.

African News Agency (ANA)