Nehawu urges govt to stand firm on alcohol, cigarette sale bans

South African Breweries is among the latest companies to call for the lockdown regulations to be eased, saying if this is not done, the firm may have to discard 130 million litres of beer.

FILE: SAPS Western Cape members and other law enforcement agencies participated in various vehicle checkpoints & roadblocks. Several suspects were arrested for robbery and liquor-related offences. Picture: SAPS/Twitter.

DURBAN - Despite a growing number of calls for government to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes as part of the plan to open the economy, health workers union Nehawu is advising government not to bow to pressure.

South African Breweries is among the latest companies to call for the lockdown regulations to be eased, saying if this is not done, the firm may have to discard 130 million litres of beer.

However, Nehawu said easing regulations which govern the ban on the sale and transportation of alcohol may add unnecessary pressure to South Africa's health system as the country prepares for a peak in COVID-19 infections.

Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said health workers had to deal with fewer casualty patients since the ban on the sale of alcohol.

Xaba said given that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, lifting the ban on the sale of cigarettes would not assist the health sector.

He said they were calling on government to uphold the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol until the country was cleared of the virus or a cure was found.

“We need to ensure that we protect our people so they should not bow down to pressure in the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.”

Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter raised concerns this week that the continued ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes was costing the country millions in revenue while creating fertile ground for the illicit trade of these products to thrive.

SAB TO LOSE MILLIONS

South African Breweries will lose at least R150 million if it is not allowed to transport stock within the next few days.
Transportation of liquor is strictly prohibited during the lockdown.

Only a limited amount of alcohol may be stored at the brewery.

SAB's Zoleka Lisa said a small team had been fermenting and bottling alcohol as part of the winding down of operations during lockdown.

If they are not allowed to transport this beer to depots, it would have to be destroyed.