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SA Liquor Brands Association wants ban on sale of alcohol lifted

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the sale dispensing and distribution of liquor saying this would assist in reducing pressure at trauma units in hospitals across the country.

Image: 123rf

DURBAN - The South African Liquor Brands Association said on Monday it wanted the ban on the sale of alcohol to be lifted.

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the sale dispensing and distribution of liquor, saying this would assist in reducing pressure at trauma units in hospitals across the country.

But the liquor industry said there were other ways to achieve this.

Sibane Mngadi of the South African Liquor Brands Association said the National Coronavirus Command Council should have considered an approach that would keep the liquor industry running while ensuring stricter enforcement of the law.

“From the president’s statement, it says that those trauma cases that land in hospitals [are at] night. If that is the case, as a way to address it, can we make [the closing time] earlier as one of the interventions that could be done.”

Mngadi said the industry had offered to contribute funds in the fight against drinking and driving.

“We intended to put financial investment interventions.”

AN 'UNFAIRLY TREATED' INDUSTRY

Mngadi said the association is disappointed by the president's announcement as it was not consulted and will be meeting in the next 24 hours to decide on a way forward.

The liquor industry said government should have consulted it and considered its ideas before reinstating the ban.

The association said the reinstatement of the ban on the sale of alcohol hit smaller players within the industry particularly hard.

“Especially in the tavern community. We have seen how they have been struggling, they didn’t receive any assistance from government in terms of financial relief.”

Mngadi said the industry has been unfairly treated: “We have not had an issue with taverns violating the restrictions of operating Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am until 5 pm.”

He said they have asked for a meeting with the presidency where they hope to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday many South Africans welcomed and supported the re-introduction of the ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol.

Mkhize said that government was seriously concerned about alcohol consumption.

"We're one of the countries that drink the most, and in the WHO Afro region, at 64.6 grams of absolute alcohol per capita per day, that's about 5 or 6 standard drinks of 12 grams of absolute alcohol. That's about 15ml per day. In other countries, it's 14 grams per drinker, per day. That's a matter of concern."

Mkhize said alcohol-related trauma patients were stretching hospital resources.

"In some instances, when you deal with someone who's got a stabbed heart, literally everything freezes, and everybody will run into theatre, even without being fully scrubbed. That's the nature of the disruption that comes with the level of emergency created by the trauma," he said.

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