Minister of Police Bheki Cele and commissioner Khehla Sitole destroy confiscated booze. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency
Minister of Police Bheki Cele and commissioner Khehla Sitole destroy confiscated booze. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency

Confiscated booze may be lost forever

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Sep 19, 2020

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An amendment to the Liquor Bill may result in alcohol users never seeing their favourite tipple again, should it be confiscated.

At present, after paying a fine, you could still get your alcohol back but if the Western Cape government has its way this could all change.

The plan is also to halve the number of alcohol-related deaths in the province over the next 10 years. This is just one of the proposed amendments and while it’s unclear when it would be instituted, it could take up to 21 days to get approved by the provincial government.

It will then be referred to the provincial parliament for debate and finalisation. One of the proposals will also look at the introduction of a sliding scale for the Western Cape Liquor Authority’s (WLCA) liquor license fees.

This will mean applicants would pay a proportional price – for example, small liquor vendors will pay less than large distributors. Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said the amendments would further result in quick wins and reduce alcohol-related harms(ARH).

Fritz added that inserting an objective test within the Act, to determine whether alcohol has been sold to an unlicensed outlet/individual, would force licence holders to take reasonable measures to determine that a client is of legal drinking age.

The Liquor Bill makes provision for the national Minister of Community Safety to “prescribe by way of regulation, additional and relevant information to be considered by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal or the Presiding Officer; ensuring that a record of all liquor sales is kept by outlets and prescribe the measure of detail required; and limiting the delivery of more than the prescribed limit of liquor by inserting a requirement to produce the written consent of the Presiding Officer”.

Research conducted by the MEC during different stages of the national lockdown showed that stricter alcohol laws had decreased the number of homicides in the city.

“However, as we moved into alert levels 4 and 3, the murder figures increased but then again slightly decreased as the ban on alcohol and the curfew was reinstituted,” said Fritz.

“At the same time, my department aims to work more closely with unlicensed outlets and individuals to ensure that they become licensed and ARHs are mitigated. This will further require a whole of government approach to address issues related to availability and access. The proposed amendments further seek to enable unlicensed outlets to become licensed, adhere to regulation such as zoning and trading hours”.

Charles Parry, the director for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs research unit at the Medical Research Council of South Africa told the Weekend Argus that with the ban of alcohol, unnatural death rates had dropped.

“Personally, I think the drinking age should be 19 because we still have 18-year-olds in school at that time. Raising the drinking age should be done in increments,” said Parry.

He added that the Western Cape was the only province to properly track trauma admissions and this needed to be extended nationally.

The DA’s Dean Macpherson told media that the draft legislation has effectively been stuck in Cabinet for the last four years, despite having the potential to introduce a number of regulations which could reduce the damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption in the country.

“While not perfect, the bill will allow MPs to work towards dealing with issues like access to liquor by minors and provinces being able to levy taxes on sales to fund cost recovery models, ” he said.

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