While a meeting between the Eastern Cape government and liquor trader associations resolved to co-operate in the fight against alcohol abuse in the province amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Premier Oscar Mabuyane remains steadfast in his intention to have the sale of alcohol banned again.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the government and leaders representing the Consortium of Liquor Traders’ Association of South Africa and Eastern Cape Liquor Traders’ Association made several decisions regarding alcohol consumption in the province.
One includes the establishment of a joint working committee made up of liquor manufacturers, liquor associations, the police and provincial government.
The committee will also set up a local anonymous tip-off line for members of the public to report any suspicious activities like house parties, the contravention of regulations managing liquor trading during the lockdown, selling liquor to under-age individuals and the selling of illicit liquor products in the province.
“The tip-off line will be operated at the Eastern Cape Liquor Board and will report any incident to the police and liquor association members to attend to the matter,” a statement read.
It agreed during the meeting a campaign should be introduced to encourage responsible alcohol consumption, produce material with educational messaging to be published using social media and other media platforms to reach out to as many people as possible.
The chairperson of the Consortium of Liquor Traders’ Association of South Africa, Lucky Ntimane, said – through their Eastern Cape structures and the Eastern Cape Liquor Traders’ Association – they would work with the provincial government to fight alcohol abuse and help protect people from Covid-19, which could occur “when people abuse consumption of alcohol”.
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“We welcome the commitment made by the sector to help us fight he abuse of consumption of alcohol in our province. We are happy that the call we are making to our people is supported by both the consortium of Liquor Traders’ Association of South Africa and Eastern Cape Liquor Traders’ Association.
“This effort needs all of us to join this fight for the benefit of our people. We will defeat this virus when we work together because a united effort can empower us to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” he added.
While the statement did not reflect on whether the premier would continue to lobby for the ban on the sale of alcohol, his spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, confirmed to News24 his position had not changed.
News24 previously reported Mabuyane had petitioned the national government to re-impose the ban in the province until Level 1 lockdown.
According to him, since the resumption of the sale of alcohol, provincial reports from 1 to 7 June had shown a surge in people contravening lockdown regulations.
During this period, the province recorded 3 141 cases linked to alcohol, including 25 of culpable homicide, 94 of murder, 355 assault with grievous bodily harm cases, 42 of attempted murder, 51 of drunk driving and 25 of accidents under the influence, the premier told News24.