‘Enjoy liquor responsibly during festive season’

Pictured at the meeting to highlight responsible liquor consumption during the festive season, are Mitchell’s Plain SAPS Captain Sam Nassau, Western Cape Liquor Authority inspector, Cantor Africa, Western Cape Liquor Authority inspector, Vanessa Battis, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association chairperson, Norman Jantjes and Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum treasurer, Denzil Sampson.

With the festive season under way and everyone getting ready to celebrate it, Mitchell’s Plain organisations have urged the public to enjoy their liquor responsibly.

The Plainsman joined a meeting with Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) and the Western Cape Liquor Authority on Thursday November 16 at Mitchell’s Plain SAPS boardroom.

MURA chairperson, Norman Jantjes, said they would like to see responsible liquor trading. This is the beginning of the festive season and the community crime-fighters can assist in this as well, he said.

Western Cape Liquor Authority inspector, Vanessa Battis, said during the festive season it’s about awareness and sharing information. “As leaders we can play a role in reducing alcohol harm. Illegal liquor outlet distribution has a negative impact on the community.”

Trading hours for liquor outlets should be from Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, which will be approved by the City of Cape Town for a six-day week. On Sundays outlets are closed although a few businesses have to get approval for an extended licence running until 8pm in the evening for off-site consumption, she said.

Ms Battis said unfortunately underage children still have access to buying alcohol. The liquor authority informs outlets to monitor this and to ask for an identification – if not supplied, they can refuse the purchase.

Western Cape Liquor Authority inspector Cantor Africa said off-site consumption seems to be a trend. “On-site consumption (premises) used to have yards and it’s dying out as it becomes a nest for crime.”

Mr Africa said Mitchell’s Plain has 90% off-site consumption. “Very few have been granted extended hours. After 6pm purchases at outlets is a problem – it’s legal brands that get confiscated from a shebeen supply.”

Liquor traders must have clear signage specifying trading hours. Any person can ask for their (the liqour trader’s) licence if they don’t see it on site. Community members can monitor if outlets don’t adhere to the hours, he said.

“According to Stats SA, 54% involve persons with positive high-alcohol intake and 61% violent fatalities are linked to high alcohol intake. This usually spikes over the festive season,” said Mr Africa.

Robberies usually take place once leaving an outlet. “If you’re going to consume liquor, do it at home. Drunken sprees are something of the past,” he said.

Mr Africa said licensed outlets go through a process with the community in order to trade and they must keep to their conditions. Illegal outlets don’t have that consent.

Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum (CPF) treasurer, Denzil Sampson, said carrying bottles openly has become part of “character and culture”. “Drinking in public is illegal. Drinking in play parks condones the behaviour, even leaving behind broken glass. At night they (alcohol consumers) would find themselves in places they shouldn’t be. However, outlets that we know of have been very disciplined,” he said.

Intoxicated parents open up a door for missing children and chances of being arrested, even hijacking and death can occur, he said.

Mitchell’s Plain SAPS’ Captain Sam Nassau said they want to decrease the risk of violence over the festive season.

Their focus will be on illegal traders, especially those reselling without a licence.

“The vulnerable spend money. Some outlets operate after hours and exploit the vulnerable. Delivery vehicles must also be licensed to transport liquor, if not, we can remove the goods, take the vehicle and arrest if need be.”

The challenges SAPS face are domestic violence and common assault. “Liquor plays a role in this. We want to reduce this,” said Captain Nassau.

Complaints of minors drinking have reached them as some parents allow drinking on their premises. “This now becomes a health issue, also having to look into helping children in a psychosocial way,” he said.

Mr Jantjes said responsible liquor trading is everyone’s business.

“Illegal shebeens are linked to selling drugs or having a house shop on the premises. When children access this, they’re exposed to liquor. Sometimes this is linked to gangs and violence and innocent people get hurt in the process. We want people to drink responsibly. We must look out for others and help create awareness,” he said.

Contact the Western Cape Liquor Authority’s WhatsApp hotline on 073 737 5843 to report contraventions and send complaints.