People stand in long queues outside liquor outlets as the country enters Level 3 of the lockdown on Monday, 1 June. There has been a nine-week ban on the sale of alcohol due to the spread of the coronavirus. File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
People stand in long queues outside liquor outlets as the country enters Level 3 of the lockdown on Monday, 1 June. There has been a nine-week ban on the sale of alcohol due to the spread of the coronavirus. File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape sees increase in alcohol-related trauma cases

By Songezo Ndlendle Time of article published Jun 9, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Community Safety MEC, Albert Fritz said the province has seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related trauma cases since the un-banning of alcohol  on Monday last week.

“This is extremely concerning as the healthcare system is already under pressure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

As of 1 June, the sale of alcohol was again permitted. It was stated that licensed premises may sell liquor from Monday to Thursday, excluding Friday to Sunday and public holidays.

Liquor may only be sold between 9am and 5pm and may not be consumed on premises and in public, according to the regulations.

“I want to be very clear,  the abuse of alcohol takes beds away from people who need it during this difficult time. This could be a family member or loved one who needs this bed. 

"That is why every single one of us has a role to play to make a difference. So, please, please drink responsibly. If this doesn’t happen, we will explore alternative steps to ensure that this happens,” Fritz said.

He said through the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA), his department would continue to enforce the relevant regulations, with a particular focus on taverns. 

“We know that in our most vulnerable communities, taverns, particularly those that operate unlicensed, play a significant role in perpetuating alcohol related harms.”

The MEC further welcomed the 65 investigations conducted by the WCLA. Between 23 March and 5 June, the WCLA have conducted 65 investigations into liquor license holders who allegedly failed to adhere to the lockdown regulations.

Of the total 65 investigations conducted, three are under investigation by the WCLA, eight have been referred to SAPS, four reports are being drafted for the

Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT), one is being referred to the LLT,  while 32 licenses have been suspended.

“The WCLA will continue to work closely with SAPS to report unlicensed premises and ensure the necessary action is taken against them which includes paying an admission of guilt fine and the removal of their liquor stock,” Fritz said. 

“With regards to licensed taverns, the WCLA will continue to conduct its investigations into licensed premises that do not comply with the regulations and may issue a fine of up to R115,000 or revoke the licences of those who do not comply, subject to an investigation.”

Since 1 June, he said, inspectors were widely deployed to monitor premises in areas where non-compliance was most prevalent or where non-compliance was most likely to occur. 

“Licensed outlets have generally been very compliant, and some licensees undertook to close their businesses where there was overcrowding. In Nyanga, a licensee painted white spots on the pavement outside the premises where customers were required to queue to maintain social distancing. 

"Many outlets complied with the prescribed health protocols in terms of the use of thermometers and hand sanitisers,” Fritz said.

He urged members of the public who were aware of the illegal sale of alcohol to immediately report such to SAPS. Any persons wanting to lodge a complaint or report a contravention of the regulations can contact the WCLA on 021 204 9805.

African News Agency 

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