Alcohol abuse has been labelled as the biggest contributing factor to violent behaviour and road accidents.
This emerged when the provincial Department of Health, in partnership with the departments of Transport and Public Works and Community Safety, held a safety walk during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in Town Two on Monday November 27. As part of the campaign, the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Change Safety Spaces pilot initiative was introduced.
The initiative is one of many interventions directed at curbing alcohol abuse, and the main aim is to ensure that taverns and shebeens have trading licences and are adhering to the liquor laws.
The residents and community stakeholders walked through Town Two on Monday before heading to Site C and handing out educational pamphlets. The residents were told that there were between 50 to 60 taverns operating in their community but only three of them had trading licences. A representative from the Premier’s office, Sanele Gaqa, said the Alcohol Harms Reduction initiative does not intend to instruct or force people to stop drinking alcohol. But he said it strives to ensure that people drink responsibly. Mr Gaqa said they had visited all the taverns in the area and wanted to ensure that they operated legally.
He said 16 law enforcement personnel had been appointed to solely respond to any incidents which may occur at any of the taverns in the area.
He said eight cameras had alsobeen installed to curb crime. “We will have members of SAPS that will assist the law enforcement officers. We want to enhance the safety of our people. The key advantages of this campaign are that the community comes with solutions to address these issues. The community plays a fundamental role in reducing crime and alcohol abuse. In this festive season, the residents have agreed that they will monitor taverns,” he said.
Asked about what were the plans for taverns owners operating in Informal settlements, he said according to the law they were not allowed to run shebeens and were not eligible to acquire trading licences.
He said one of the requirements for people to have a trading licence to run a tavern was that they needed to have a formal property.He said they were working around the clock to help those taverns who met the requirements, but did not have trading licences.
However, he said at the end, their core aim was to reduce the number of operating taverns and only have legal traders .
Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo, said as women they were tired of abuse. Ms Mbombo said the abuse of alcohol was the biggest contributor to road accidents, rape and killings. She said the campaign was aimed at creating safe spaces in the area of Town Two and elsewhere.
She said they wanted to reclaim their communities and ensure that every citizen takes a stand and the responsibility to create a better living environment. She said some residents had been elected to be community advocates and they will work hand-in-hand with community stakeholders and Law enforcement agencies. She said they will be the ears and eyes of the community. “We are calling for an end to alcohol abuse. We want residents to take a stand in the fight against crime and alcohol abuse. We want tavern owners to sell alcohol responsibly,” she said.
Community leader Nocawe Mankayi said some of the solutions that they agreed on as the community was that they wanted to introduce operating trading hours for tavern owners. Ms Mankayi said they had also highlighted that they wanted people to be informed about alternative entrepreneurial ventures.
But she emphasised that they wanted to introduce sport activities for the youth so that they could be kept occupied.