Justice Project South Africa chair Howard Dembovsky has slated the government’s ban on alcohol, stating that it will enable a booming black market in the country.
Dembovksy told MyBroadband that although there is empirical evidence that the abuse of alcohol causes a strain on the healthcare system, entirely prohibiting the sale of legally-manufactured alcohol in South Africa is a questionable tactic.
“I must preface my response by saying that I do not drink alcohol. But just because I don’t doesn’t mean that I am an anti-booze zealot,” Dembovsky said.
“There is much to be said for ‘if you treat people like children, they will act like children’, but clearly, our patriarchal de facto Politburo did not get the memo.”
He said that many local consumers foresaw the reintroduction of the alcohol ban, and many stocked up on liquor while they could.
“The jury is out whether they stocked up for their personal consumption, or with a view to becoming stinking rich bootleggers if/when the ban was reintroduced,” Dembovsky said.
“I suspect that the latter is true of many hoarders.”
“What the government should have done from the get-go was to limit quantities that could be purchased. It didn’t, probably because asking it to exercise even a little prudence is way too much to ask of it,” he said.
While larger producers and retail outlets will comply with the ban on alcohol, Dembovksy predicted that many of the smaller stores will not stop selling alcohol.
Illicit manufacturers will also ramp up their operations, Dembovsky said.
Criminals must be happy with government’s decision
Criminals will be able to expand their illicit operations to include both cigarettes and alcohol, netting them greatly improved profits, Dembovksy said.
“Organised criminals must be delighted with government’s decision,” he said. “Now, not only can they profit from the booming “black market” in cigarettes, they can do the same with alcohol.”
“And as for the moonshiners and homebrewers, they too can ramp up their operations, unless government bans the sale of all sorts of fruits and vegetables, which is not that inconceivable in the big scheme of things.”
“Suffice to say that I predict that the wholesale ban on alcohol will have an adverse effect,” he said.
Dlamini-Zuma addressed the potential issue of illegal alcohol sales, encouraging South Africans to threaten to call the police on illegal sellers.
“It should be our responsibility when we see somebody still selling alcohol to say to that person: ‘Don’t sell alcohol, otherwise we will call the police’,” Dlamini-Zuma said in a briefing on Monday 13 July.
Regarding other regulatory changes, Dembovsky said that the imposition of a curfew would do little to reduce the spread of the virus and it would be difficult to enforce.
“Furthermore, confining aggressors to their homes to beat up their families instead of complete strangers, had the effect of increasing domestic violence during the ‘hard lockdown’. I predict it will do the same again now,” he said.
Dembovksy added that while there were potentially some legal issues regarding the enforcement of wearing masks in certain situations, everyone should wear a mask regardless to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“It is profoundly stupid not to wear a mask – at the very least,” Dembovsky said.
“This virus is no joke and takes no prisoners. No-one, even the most ignorant and defiant among us, is immune.”