10 ways Western Cape wants to change booze laws

The Western Cape wants to amend the province’s liquor act to halve the number of murders in the province in the next 10 years.

The Western Cape says it can halve the number of murders in the province by tightening up on liquor sales. It will institute a public participation process to alter existing licences.
Image: 123RF/Vladislavs Gorniks

This is according to the Western Cape’s minister of community safety Albert Fritz, who said his department has been tasked to come up with a plan to reduce violence and murder in the province. Fritz said the liquor act amendment is aligned with premier Alan Winde’s “Smart Interventions” aimed at reducing alcohol-related harms.

“During the lockdown, my department monitored the number of homicides, which demonstrated that at the beginning of the lockdown, the murder rate had been halved. However, as we moved into alert levels 4 and 3, the murder figures increased but then again slightly decreased as the ban on alcohol and the curfew was reinstituted,” said Fritz.

He said these are not sustainable interventions, as they have a major affect on the economy and contribute to unemployment in vulnerable communities.

“That is why I agree with premier Winde that it is necessary that the unbanning of alcohol be accompanied with smart interventions, such as the proposed amendments, which aim to reduce alcohol-related harms,” he said.

According to Fritz, the key proposed amendments for altering the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WLCA) regulations include the following:

  • Permanently confiscating seized liquor after the payment of an admission of guilt fine.
  • Inserting an objective test within the act to determine whether alcohol has been sold to an unlicensed outlet/individual.
  • Obliging licence holders to take reasonable measures to determine that a client is of legal drinking age.
  • Aligning the act with the Liquor Products Act to ensure a uniform definition of “illicit liquor”.
  • Providing for a public participation process to alter existing licences.
  • Expanding section 24 committee powers to hear enforcement matters.
  • Expanding the capacity and availability of the Appeal Tribunal/Authority.
  • Enabling the minister of community safety to prescribe by way of regulation additional and relevant information to be considered by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal or the presiding officer.
  • Ensuring that a record of all liquor sales is kept by outlets and prescribe the measure of detail required.
  • Limiting the delivery of more than the prescribed limit of liquor by inserting a requirement to produce the “written consent of the presiding officer”.

Fritz said the proposed amendments further sought to enable unlicensed outlets to become licensed, and adhere to regulations such as zoning and trading hours.

“As per the legislative process, the proposed amendments will be put forward to the provincial cabinet which will scrutinise and debate the contents. Thereafter, it will be prepared by legal services and be published in the Provincial Gazette for public input for 21 days,” he said.

The amendment comes after the Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) called for the draft liquor amendment bill to be fast-tracked, along with the zero limit for drink driving.

Times Select reported that Saapa director Maurice Smithers said: “Government themselves acknowledge that there is an issue with the way alcohol is consumed, and it is now critical. We are baffled as to why they don’t take the tools they already have and deal with this problem.”

If signed into law, the draft liquor bill that was first published in 2016 will see the legal drinking age raised to 21. It will also ban all alcohol sales and advertising on public platforms.

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

BY UNATHI NKANJENI

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