The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) has come out in full support of a bill that makes the owners of bars, shebeens and other drinking establishments responsible if they allow drunk patrons to drive.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Monday tabled a bill in parliament proposing that the legal age of drinking be raised from 18 to 21 and that sellers and manufacturers of alcohol be held responsible for damage caused by patrons who had consumed too much.
The policy also proposes that liquor manufacturers selling to illegal shebeens should be held responsible.
Davies also launched a draft liquor policy paper, a draft Liquor Amendment Bill and draft amendments to the Gambling Act for public comment over the next 45 days.
ECLB spokesman Mgwebi Msiya said they also supported another proposal in the bill making manufacturers and suppliers of liquor responsible for incidents caused by alcohol.
According to the bill, they will have to prove that their liquor was not sold to an unlicensed establishment.
“This particular area of the policy seeks to promote responsible trading, compelling liquor traders to take responsibility by ensuring that their patrons, especially drivers, are prevented from drinking excessively before they drive,” Msiya said.
“Liquor traders must ensure that they take necessary steps to ensure that patrons don’t drive vehicles when under the influence of alcohol. “In many instances accidents are attributed to alcohol consumption.”
“As you may be aware, recent crime statistics indicate that alcohol is implicated in some of the criminal cases reported to the police. “This therefore means that alcohol does contribute to both crime and road accidents.”
Msiya said they also supported raising the drinking age to 21.
“Our view is that increasing the age to 21 will ensure that young people start consuming alcohol when they are psychologically and physiologically ready,” he said.
“Also, we believe that every effort must be made to alleviate the scourge of underage drinking which is ravaging communities.”