The government has come out strongly against alcohol abuse, after several booze-related crashes and arrests in the days after the controversial ban was lifted.
In a statement on Monday, government spokesperson Phumla Williams slammed the alcohol-related incident that led to the deaths of Tshwane metro police officers.
Two police officers were also arrested among the 740 taken into custody for allegedly driving under the influence at the weekend.
Williams said the lifting of the alcohol sales ban had been seen as a positive development as it meant the fight against Covid-19 was progressing well.
“Tragically, the positive progress that the country has been making towards containing the spread of Covid-19 is being dampened by reports of alcohol abuse, recklessness, and terrible vehicle crashes and fatalities on our roads,” she said.
“The recent spate of fatal accidents after the reopening of liquor sales is a cause for concern. It cannot be acceptable that three Tshwane metro police department (TMPD) officers are among the people who died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents that occurred in Gauteng this past weekend.”
She said while many South Africans were responsible in their use of alcohol, the government and society could not sit idle while lives were being destroyed as a result of alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
“We have noticed that some people do not abide by alert level 2 regulations, which place restrictions on gatherings, and we urge law-enforcement authorities to play their role in bringing the culprits to book.
“In the midst of a pandemic, it cannot be acceptable that health-care workers in our hospitals have to deal with high numbers of cases at the trauma units as a result of alcohol.”
Williams said though the government is committed to addressing societal issues such as alcohol abuse and the carnage on our roads, ultimately these issues were everybody’s responsibility. She, therefore, called on all South Africans to promote responsible alcohol use and road safety in the country.
“Government further appeals to the liquor industry to strengthen efforts with the government that aim to curb the scourge of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is also often at the heart of contact crimes, which include murder, attempted murder, s.e.xual offences, assault resulting in grievous bodily harm, common assault and robbery,” she said.
“Some families risk being destroyed because of the extent of alcohol abuse. It is estimated that about 70% of domestic violence is associated with alcohol.”
Williams urged law-enforcement agencies to do their part through visible enforcement.