Reducing alcohol abuse and ensuring that liquor outlets obey strict liquor laws is the fundamental aim of the provincial government.
This was the core message delivered at Thembelihle High School in Khayelitsha when various entities of government held an alcohol abuse awareness event on Sunday February 24. The provincial government had implemented an initiative called Alcohol Harms Reduction Gamer Changer.
The initiative was rolled out in May 2016 and had been implemented in Town Two.
The programme also aims to enhance the sense of safety for residents by installing eight surveillance cameras and deploying more enforcement officers.
A survey conducted in December in 2017 revealed that 74% of residents felt that their area was better than it was a year ago. But most importantly, the initiative managed to increase liquor outlet compliance ifrom 64% in the beginning of 2018 to 94% towards the end of the same year.
Western Cape premier, Helen Zille, said alcohol was one of the most widely abused drugs in the country and it was harmful as it had an enormous social and emotional impact.
Ms Zille said most road accidents had been caused indirectly or directly by alcohol abuse. Furthermore, she said, alcohol had been identified as the third leading risk factor for death and disability in the country.
She explained that the initiative sought to change this through focusing on interventions that made a tangible impact on reducing the harms related to alcohol.
Ms Zille said through such interventions, they wanted to increase the number of legal liquor outlets while closing down illegal outlets. But more than anything, she said they wanted to ensure that every citizen adhered to the strict liquor laws.
Ms Zille said alcohol was a major contributor to crime and hoped through this programme they could halt it. But she said the most difficult thing for any government was to change people’s behaviour and attitude towards alcohol and drugs.
Ms Zille said alcohol was not merely affecting the person who drinks but indirectly and directly it affected their families and the whole society.
But she said the worrying factor was that alcohol abuse was costing the government billions of rand.
“In many townships liquor laws are absolutely ignored. We have decided to apply liquor laws strictly with legal and illegal liquor outlets. Our aim is to create proper liquor polices and ensure that people adhere to them. We want to curb alcohol abuse,” she said.
MEC for Community Safety, Alan Winde, said safety was a team effort and required everyone’s involvement.
He said the community should play an active role in assisting the government in ensuring that the liquor outlets in the community adhere to liquor laws.
Mr Winde said it was one of their goals as the government to ensure that people fel tsafe in their communities just like in other areas.
He praised volunteers who participated in neighbourhood watches and described them as heroes who put their lives at risk just for their communities to be safe.
Ward councillor Patrick Mgxunyeni, said crime was rife in their communities. However, he said, the programme has played a major role in reducing crime and hoped it could be rolled out to other areas within Khayelitsha.
City of Cape Town mayor, Dan Plato, said the provincial government has injected many resources in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse.
He said finally the government had managed to reduce alcohol abuse.
He noted that it was not only Khayelitsha that was under siege of alcohol but many areas had the same challenge. And,he said the project would not be a success without the community’s support.