Soul City's Kalideen says more random breathalyser tests could help to curb drunk driving deaths

According to Community Forum Police statistics, Soweto's Braamfischerville neighbourhood boasts 2 500 taverns and is home to almost 22 000 people – meaning that there is at least one drinking establishment for 22 residents

About a quarter of Braamfischerville’s residents are under the age of 20, according to the 2011 Census.

Bar owners report that business is brisk in the neighbourhood, with some outlets attending to hundreds of customers a day.

Tsakane Nkhwashu has run Tsakane’s Tavern in Braamfischerville Phase 1 for about a decade and sells alcohol alongside groceries.

“Every weekend, the alcohol goes, as a result of about 200 customers,” said Nkhwashu, adding that beers and ciders are his top sellers.

In December, sales rise steeply, according to the licensed vendor.

Nearby, Mduduzi Zwane recently took over Sibongile’s Place, a tavern started by his mother. He claims he receives 1 000 customers a day during the festive season, but adds he has also seen the dark side of drinking.

“In December time, I cannot even sleep, due to so many people buying alcohol,” said Zwane, adding that he had seen people hurt and held up at gunpoint by people under the influence of alcohol.

Last week, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters reported that the country had experienced a 14% increase in road fatalities this festive season. Some 1 755 people lost their lives on roads from 1 December-11 January.

According to Peters, weekends were deadly and Saturday accidents comprised almost a quarter of all fatal crashes recorded during the period.

South Africans between 25-39 accounted for almost half of all drivers who died and one-third of all passenger and pedestrian deaths.

Peters cited alcohol as one of the key drivers of festive fatalities.

A study published in  the South African Medical Journal in 2014 estimated that alcohol cost SA an estimated R37,9 billion in just one year in related road accidents, crime and ill health.

Savera Kalideen is an advocacy manager at the Soul City, which runs the PhuzaWise campaign that encourages responsible drinking.

Kalideen says more random breathalyser tests could help to curb drunk driving deaths and that efforts to enact legislation to curb alcohol abuse have been slow.

In 2013, Cabinet approved the release of the Department of Health’s Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill for public comment.

An initial 2011 impact assessment by analyst Chris Moerdyk found that if made into law, the bill would result in a loss of R2,5 billion in advertising revenue and about 2 500 low-paying jobs.

According to Kalideen, the Department of Health was then asked to conduct a second study to ascertain the bill’s possible impact on sports sponsorship and TV.

“That was more than a year ago,” she said. “There’s nothing new coming out of it (the assessment), but the Minister does say the legislation will go through.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade & Industry’s draft liquor policy, published for public comment in May 2015, proposes raising the drinking age from 18 to 21. The policy also proposed banning liquor sales within 500m of schools, places of worship and residential areas. It is currently being revised, according to Kalideen.

Original article.

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