South Africans are reeling from the ban on alcohol and cigarettes. While bootlegging is increasing, others are resorting to outright robbery
As the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes puts already stressed South Africans under even more psychological distress, seven police officers were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a shop that sells alcohol in Bonnievale, Western Cape, on Sunday, reported News24
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said they were expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
They face charges of attempted robbery, as well as violating the lockdown regulations, in terms of which the sale of alcohol is prohibited.
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There was mass booze-buying panic ahead of the lockdown when it was announced that alcohol and cigarettes weren’t regarded as essential items. Since then, trade has continued by way of illegal car boot sales, back-door smuggling and – in extreme cases – break-ins such as this, fuelling a lively black market charging usurous prices for contraband, and depriving both the liquor and tobacco industries of billions of rands, as well as putting hundreds of employees out of work. At the time of writing, the Gauteng Liquor Forum had issued an ultimatum to President Cyril Ramaphosa to relax the restrictions on selling alcohol, or be taken to the Constitutional Court.
However, Police Minister Bheki Cele has become equally threatening about pursuing those who violate the restrictions, this while a report by The Sunday Times showed how the ban is turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.
Several political parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have come out in support of the decision to continue the ban on the sale of liquor. Citing a reduction in the number of reduced trauma cases at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, the EFF noted that “the unbanning of alcohol is an ill-informed, greed-driven call that is not supported by any science or ethical considerations. It is based purely on profit maximisation at the total expense of human life and social stability. To defeat the spread of COVID-19, alcohol must be banned to the very end.”
Additional reporting: News24, The Sunday Times