Eastern Cape needs the alcohol ban back - Premier

Premier Oscar Mabuyane says this is meant to help save lives and curb the spread of the infection.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane sanitises his hands against the spread of the coronavirus ahead of a special exco meeting on 20 March 2020. Picture: @OscarMabuyane/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Eastern Cape government on Tuesday said reinstating the ban on alcohol sales in the province would help its efforts to fight COVID-19.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane is pushing for the ban to be reimposed, citing a surge in crimes and road deaths stemming from liquor abuse.

From 1 to 7 June - the provincial government said there were 94 murders there, as well as 77 rapes.

Mabuyane's spokesperson, Mvusi Sicwetsha, told Eyewitness News: "We believe if we could reintroduce this ban in the province we could reduce the rate of infection because having this situation where people are breaking these laws, it puts their lives at risk and it makes quite a number of people vulnerable to infection. This decision is made to reduce infections and to protect the lives of our people."

The government on 1 June moved to alert level 3, which allowed for the sale of alcohol after it wasn't sold since 28 March, when South African went into lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

It seems the Eastern Cape is not the only province with these worries.

On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety MEC Bheki Ntuli said he was concerned about an increase in road fatalities linked to alcohol use since the country moved to alert level three of the lockdown.

Sixty-three people have died on the province’s roads in the past week.

Ntuli said authorities would not take kindly to those found driving under the influence of alcohol.

Ntuli called on residents to drink responsibly, warning that those who did not comply could go back to level five lockdown restrictions.

He reiterated that the transportation of alcohol for home consumption is only permitted between 9 am and 5 pm from Monday to Thursday.

Meanwhile, Director general of Government Communication and Information System, Phumla Williams, said government would not renege on its decision to open alcohol sales.

“There is no such information. Currently, we are on level three and liquor stores are open from Monday to Thursday. We want to urge South Africans there is no need for panic buying.”

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