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Fears that Cape Town liquor laws will ‘fuel illegal trade’


The move by Cape Town to shorten trading hours is an attempt by city authorities to lessen liquor abuse, hooliganism and violent crime, as well as to expose establishments selling liquor illegally, reports Business Day.

The South African Police Service 2010-11 crime statistics found that nationally, half of patients who die in transport-related incidents have elevated blood-alcohol content and 77% of all deaths caused by sharp objects involved positive alcohol levels.

The Democratic Alliance-run Western Cape has gained a reputation for its strict liquor regulations in recent years, with some labelling it a “nanny state”. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has said alcohol abuse is the main cause of violent crime.

Gauteng is also moving to ban the sale of liquor on Sundays. The draft Gauteng Liquor Act was introduced in the legislature on Friday. The bill calls for amendments to the 2003 Liquor Act.

If promulgated, Sunday liquor sales at all establishments would be banned. These include bottle stores, restaurants and bars.

But KwaZulu-Natal seems set to relax its liquor laws. The KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Act is awaiting final amendments before it is passed, and under the new law, liquor stores will be allowed to open on Sundays. The KwaZulu-Natal liquor authority says allowing outlets to trade on Sundays would be in line with the constitution which recognises the country as a secular state, and that the existing Sunday ban is a remnant of the previous regime.

“I think banning will not solve the problem. Traders will just go underground … an alternative would be investing in educational campaigns,” South African Liquor Traders Association president Saint Madlala said.

He said while the association was cognisant of the effects of alcohol abuse and the need for regulation, banning liquor sales on Sundays would hit traders hard and force some to retrench their staff. Mr Madlala said liquor traders made between 20% and 30% of their profits on Sundays.

In terms of Cape Town’s Liquor Trading Days and Hours by-law, liquor stores will no longer be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays, or after 6pm from Monday to Saturday — while clubs, hotels and casinos, among others, can extend their cut-off time to sell liquor from 2am to 4am, on condition they apply for an exemption. Traders in liquor for off-premises consumption also have to stop trading at 6pm.

City authorities said traders will have to abide by new trading hours, regardless of the liquor licence they hold. This follows a 12-month implementation period for the Western Cape Liquor Act, which ends on March 31.

Source: Business Day

COMMENT: Mishmash of liquor laws undermine our freedom

DRACONIAN changes to the liquor laws — some about to be implemented, others in the pipeline — raise the question how far the state should go to save people from each other — and themselves.

It is broadly accepted that governments have a duty to prevent people from harming others, so not many people would object to laws banning driving under the influence, for example. But should any society pass such laws, even reasonable ones, if there is little prospect of them being enforced consistently? And at what point does intervening to prevent abuse by a minority become an unwarranted restriction of the majority’s constitutional freedoms?….. by Dave Marrs, Cape Editor of Business Day

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