Western Cape moves forward on planned stricter alcohol sales laws

Western Cape minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, says that his department has begun work on proposed amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act.

“These amendments aim to reduce alcohol related harms and are currently on route to the Western Cape Government’s legal services,” he said in a statement.

“Thereafter, it will be referred to provincial Treasury and to myself in my capacity as the provincial minister of Community Safety.”

Fritz has previously said that his department is tasked with amending the act as a part of a plan to halve the murder rate in the province over the next 10 years.

“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,” he said.

Fritz said these interventions are not sustainable as they had a major impact on the province’s economy and contribute to unemployment in vulnerable communities.

Instead, Fritz said that the province wants to introduce the following changes:

  • Ensuring that a record of all liquor sales is kept by outlets and prescribe the measure of detail required;
  • Permanently confiscating seized liquor following the payment of an admission of guilt fine;
  • Obliging licence holders to take reasonable measures to determine that a client is of legal drinking age;
  • Inserting an objective test within the Act to determine whether alcohol has been sold to an unlicensed outlet/individual;
  • 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.

Statistics 

The push for stricter regulations around the sale of alcohol comes as the province gears up for a long weekend. “I urge residents to drink responsibly should they wish to do so over the long weekend,” Fritz said.

“We know that over long weekends there are increases in accidents related to or caused by alcohol,” he said. “Over the long weekend, roadblocks will be conducted to ensure that our roads are safe to use.”

Fritz said that between 27 March 2020 and 18 September, the Western Cape Liquor Authority investigated 162 complaints, of which 61 section 71 matters were placed on the Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) case roll. In total:

  • 46 licences were suspended;
  • 11 applications were dismissed; and
  • 4 applications are pending.

Of the 46 licences that were suspended, 43 section 71(4) return hearings and 13 section 20 considerations on these matters took place, of which:

  • One licence was revoked after finalisation of a section 20 consideration, while 39 suspensions were lifted by the LLT;
  • Two suspensions were lifted, one in the Western Cape High Court and one as part of an internal Appeal Tribunal proceeding;
  • Three return hearings are pending.

Read: Expect strict policing during lockdown level 1 – especially curfew and alcohol sales: minister

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Western Cape moves forward on planned stricter alcohol sales laws