Coronavirus News Africa

Gauteng to consider joining call for sale of alcohol to be banned again

Gauteng Premier David Makhura gives a detailed presentation on how the province has been managing the coronavirus. (@GautengProvince/Twitter)

  • Premier David Makhura set to make a decision on alcohol ban in the next few days.
  • Health MEC believes the call to reinstate the ban should be considered by the National Coronavirus Command Council. 
  • Makhura says he will make a decision based on facts not emotions.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s government will make a decision in the next few days on whether they will support the call for the reinstatement of the alcohol ban. 

Makhura said this during a media briefing on Friday, while providing an update on the coronavirus pandemic.

“The cumulative impact is something we can see, especially in the wards. We were happy that some of the wards were empty. Some are now filling up. When the discussion takes place there is no doubt that we will share the experience of Eastern Cape.

“We will say that we are deeply concerned. We have not yet come to the decision as Provincial Command Council that says alcohol should be completely banned. We have been dealing with the effect of it.”

READ | Could the debate over South Africa’s temporary alcohol sales ban have a subtext you are missing?

In the same media briefing, the province’s Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said the provincial leadership would “gladly” participate in a discussion to reinstate a ban on alcohol. 

“It is an issue we are concerned about and that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) should consider a discussion on the usage and the opening of alcohol. We will gladly participate in that discussion, particularly around the discussion of the ban of alcohol,” said Masuku.

Last week, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced that he will lobby national government to reinstate a liquor ban under Level 3 lockdown for his province, due to fears that alcohol would be harmful in the battle against Covid-19 infections.

Mabuyane is expected to petition the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to have the ban on alcohol reintroduced in his province.

Speaking to News24 on Monday, Mabuyane said the province had seen a surge in alcohol-related incidents since the country moved to Level 3.

“We had high incidents on our roads, and we had a lot of reports of gender-based violence on the basis that people were drunk. It is really not about people enjoying themselves. It has contributed to moral decay. It has really eroded our societal moral fibre,” he claimed.

Makhura said the PCC would finalise a decision in the next few days, adding that they wanted Masuku “to provide evidence from all our hospitals but also our community health centres”.

“We will make a decision when that time comes.” He added that the PCC would like to approach the matter from a point of evidence.

Masuku said: 

It is an issue we are concerned about and that the National Command Council should consider a discussion on the usage and the opening of alcohol. We will gladly participate in that discussion particularly around the discussion of the ban of alcohol.

“We don’t want to have an emotional conversation on the debate,” Makhura said. 

On Thursday during an ANC virtual lecture, Police Minister Bheki Cele and a member of the NCCC said it was inappropriate to have opened alcohol sales now, as it should have been delayed to allow those affected by Covid-19 their space.

He also mentioned Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who had told Parliament he disagreed with the ban on liquor, and questioned his concerns over the R1 billion in lost revenue, when it could cost the country up to R38 billion in health costs, due to treating traumas linked to alcohol, News24 reported.

Cele said crime fighting had benefited from the lockdown as there was increased police visibility, which also saw the country experiencing no cash heists and robberies.

“We have been having zero rapes since the lockdown – a buyile manje (they have returned).” 

“The hotspots of crime and Covid-19 are the same. As those that are shot and injured run to hospital, the people that are positive also run to hospital, so the Western Cape is clogged more than any other (province),” he said. 

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