The South African alcohol industry says it will invest a minimum of R150m in harm-reduction programmes over the next year.
The industry’s members include the National Liquor Traders Council, the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba), the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa), Vinpro, and manufacturers.
“The industry will support legislative and enforcement measures to reduce drinking and driving/walking by capacitating law enforcement with resources to effectively enforce it, and by partnering with retailers regarding interventions in high-risk areas,” said industry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi.
“Alcohol evidence centres that will have the capacity to process breath alcohol testing and immediately make available results for prosecution purposes is one of the measures to be put in place.
“The industry will ramp up its consumer education campaigns on binge drinking, which will include responsible messaging as well as defining drinking guidelines to influence behaviour.
“Various brands have introduced reduced alcohol products and 0% alcohol products to encourage responsible drinking habits.”
Mngadi said the industry was in discussion with the retail sector to explore the implementation of an ID verification system in all retail outlets, as well as the extension of the underage drinking education programme.
“The industry is committed to partnering with government and civil society in addressing the issue of gender-based violence and femicide,” he said.
“One of the industry members, SAB, has launched a gender-based violence WhatsApp helpline through its GBV social awareness campaign #NoExcuse. This is a safe reporting platform for anyone who is a victim of GBV providing for referral to a counselling support service.
“Dialogues with tavern owners are currently under way to explore the best measures and the role that outlet owners can play in an effort to curb gender-based violence. This process will be used to facilitate dialogue with government on how the industry can provide support with the implementation of the national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide.”
The industry is making a further commitment of providing R15.5m worth of PPE to hospitals in the four worst affected provinces: the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
“We call on the traders and consumers alike to abide by all the lockdown rules and make sure that their drinking occasions do not contribute to the spread of infections and unnecessary burden on the health system,” added Mngadi.
“We have a collective responsibility to protect our livelihoods as various players in the alcohol value chain. Consumers equally have a responsibility to behave appropriately and not expose themselves and others to unnecessary harm and potential infections.”