The immediate ban on alcohol sales here in South Africa has not only come as a shock to many but has been met with unhappiness from some quarters.
The country’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance has accused the government of using the alcohol ban as a scapegoat for its failures to provide adequate health care amid the coronavirus crisis.
Businesses are not thrilled either. The alcohol industry is a massive employer and concerns have been expressed about how the livelihoods of those who rely on this industry will be protected in the coming weeks.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government believe the decision – though a difficult one to make – is necessary if the country has any hope to saving lives.
Coronavirus infections have skyrocketed in the last two weeks, putting huge pressure on the health system – especially state hospitals which 80% of the population depend on.
They are simply running out of beds and part of that, according to health experts, is due to alcohol-related trauma cases.
Some 40,000 trauma cases seen in hospitals here in recent weeks are alcohol-related – something the health system cannot afford right now.
It has come down to a crude balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods – and it’s an impossible dance.
Two days after South Africa reinstated a ban on alcohol to curb the spread of coronavirus, thieves have broken into a liquor store in Cape Town.
“They basically emptied the whiskies out,” Mark Kallend, shop owner of Liquor Bothasig, told News24 about the incident early on Tuesday morning.
“They ripped the safety gate off with their vehicle… they tied a rope around it and yanked it off. They then threw a boulder through the window,” he said.
Bottles of wine and brandy were left untouched, he added.
Kallend said the incident showed how desperate people were.
In a speech on Sunday President Cyril Ramaphosa said the alcohol ban – the second this year – would take the pressure off the health system.
More than 40% of the 40,000 trauma cases recorded in the country in a week are alcohol-related – something the health system cannot afford right now.
When it comes to coronavirus, South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with more than 275,000 cases.
Deaths resulting from Covid-19 have also risen to more than 4,000, and government projections estimate this could increase to 50,000 by the end of the year.
Source: Nam News Network (NNN)