Calls for South Africa’s alcohol ban to be lifted this week

The South African Liquor Brand Association has voiced its concern over the ban on alcohol sales and said there is an opportunity for the ban to be reviewed before 15 January, according to a report by The Sunday Times.

The association said that the sale of alcohol for home consumption should be allowed – an argument that is supported by SAB’s recent court application against the alcohol ban.

Independent liquor traders have called for the government to allow businesses with liquor licences to be permitted to sell alcohol for home consumption, the report stated.

President Ramaphosa imposed a nationwide ban on alcohol sales on 28 December when the country went back into level 3 lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president said the alcohol ban and other measures would be reviewed before 15 January 2020.

Court challenge by SAB

Following this announcement, SAB approached the court to challenge the alcohol ban, arguing that it goes beyond what is reasonable and necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

“SAB believes that any ban, including the current one, goes far beyond what is reasonable and necessary to contain the spread of the virus and unlawfully restricts various rights that are enshrined and protected by our constitution,” SAB said.

“These include the right to freedom of trade, the right to human dignity, privacy, and the right to bodily and psychological integrity.”

It argued that the alcohol ban removes the South African public’s right to responsibly consume alcohol in the privacy of their own homes, noting that the prohibition would have severe negative effects on local industry.

“The damage to the South African economy and impact on the alcohol value chain arising from the ban on the sale of alcohol is, in SAB’s view, disproportional and unlawful.”

SAB pointed to previously implemented restrictions on trading hours and days, which it said were reasonable and effective measures to mitigate transmission of the coronavirus when paired with a curfew.

The company added that an outright ban on sales will cause major economic damage.

“Over 165,000 people have already lost their jobs with a further 100,000 people moving into poverty as a result of the alcohol bans,” SAB said.

“We have seen small and large businesses severely impacted, billions of rand lost in taxes, the entrenchment of illicit trading and the looting of alcohol stores.”

“Restricting the legal trade of alcohol fuels the growth of the illicit market, a fact that is widely acknowledged internationally,” it added.

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Calls for South Africa’s alcohol ban to be lifted this week