Call for booze to be consumed responsibly

Customers queue to purchase alcoholic beverages outside a liquor store in Khayelitsha.

Barely two weeks after the decision to lift the ban on the sale of liquor during alert level 3, the Western Cape Liquor Traders’ Association has expressed disappointment about the behaviour of consumers and fear that alcohol might be banned again.

The organisation was among those fighting for the lifting of the ban put in place during the national lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The association’s secretary Lefa Mapilo said although the news of the ban was a life-saving decision for businesses, some consumers’ behaviour after they drink needs to improve.

“The conduct of the consumers might lead us to close again. I think it is about time that we talk behaviour now not business.

“As liquor traders we need to say something now. Since the opening of liquor outlets, statistics of everything are up – car crashes, domestic violence and fights on the streets are an everyday thing. This is disappointing and needs to be condemned,” he said.

Mr Mapilo said that the lockdown, in particular the liquor ban, has had a major impact on their financial situation. He said until now his workers have not been back to work because of the impact of the lockdown.

He urged other organisations to come forward and condemn the misbehaviour of some consumers.

“We truly need to talk about the conduct of our customers and not business.

“It cannot be business as usual when our people are misbehaving like this. We cannot leave everything to the government. We cannot expect soldiers or police to be forced to behave or the president. This is not on.

“If we do not talk as leaders of the association we will be destroying the nation. In all of this, there’s a pandemic that is killing our people. Our consumers put other people’s health at risk,” he said.

Asked about compliance by liquor traders, Mr Mapilo said he was happy because many are complying.

He said he is worried that if the ban is reinstated many people will struggle because they are surviving on selling alcohol.

The organisation’s president, Allan Samuels, has also complained about ordinary people who stock up on liquor on Thursday and sell it over weekends.

He said these are people that the government needs to take cognisance of.

Mr Samuels said it was unfortunate that if any person has a stab wound and is sent to hospital, doctors will find alcohol in their blood and would not necessarily be looking at the history of the fight.

“It is really worrying that now you have illegal traders who are not even part of the industry stocking up on booze on Thursdays to sell over the weekends.

They know that legal traders are complying because they are not selling any liquor on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and are now using that opportunity.

The government needs to look at that too,” he said.

Mr Samuels said it was unfair that they are punished for others’ behaviour.

“It is not a good sight on weekends seeing people drinking in parks with police passing as if there is nothing wrong.

Remember some of those people also use drugs. If they fight, there will be booze in their blood and the blame will be on the industry instead of the behaviour of the person. We call on people to be more responsible so that we can fight Covid-19,” he said.

He pleaded with everyone to help the government fight the Covid-19 pandemic and the abuse of alcohol.

Mr Samuels said police have the advantage to arrest the illegal traders over the weekends and those who drink publicly.