So said Savera Kalideen, senior advocacy manager at Soul City Institute for Heath and Development Communication.
Speaking at a Johannesburg press conference on licencing and law enforcement in the informal liquor sector yesterday, Kalideen said Soul City researchers working on the institute’s responsible drinking PhuzaWise campaign had been told by youth that drinking alcohol was “cheaper than going to the movies”.
This easy access to alcohol meant abuse amongst youngsters was one of the country’s major problems, she said.
According to South African Leisure Tourism and Hospitality Association President Churchill Mrasi, government should further limit the hours during which alcohol can be sold to curb drinking. He also warned tavern owners that the responsibility of their patrons fell firmly on their shoulders.
“We urge our members (taverns owners) to make sure that people behave while they are drinking because while they are in the taverns yard they become our member’s responsibilities,” Mrasi told OurHealth.
He said that even though trading hours had been curbed, the Department of Trade and Industry should again cut the tavern and shebeens closing time from 2am to midnight.[quote float= left]Youth have told Soul City researchers that drinking alcohol is “cheaper than going to the movies”
“Maybe 2am is rather too much, I think 12am will be appropriate,” he said.
Most of the townships have taverns in close proximity of each other which raised the questions of how the Liquor Board issues licenses to taverns.
Cleo Bodibe Lushaba, the director of Liquor Licensing at the Gauteng Liquor Board, told OurHealth that they don’t issue licences to taverns who are in the radius of less than 500m of each other.
“Some of the taverns are illegal so that might be how they end up so close to one another,” Lushaba explained.
South African Police Services Section Head of National Liquor Control, Brigadier Elias Mahlabane, said fighting the issue of illegal taverns involved many sectors including the police.
According to Mahlabane, the police are not only responsible for the implementation of norms and standards that are set but responsible for any legislation that comes into efect.
“Our duty is to make sure that people comply with their licensing conditions as well as conducting regular inspections in those premises. We also deal with illegal outlets – we close them… if something is illegal it must be removed from the community.”