Fight Against Alcohol Harms Bolstered with New Liquor Regulations
Bigger penalties for irresponsible liquor trading and a beefed-up Liquor Authority form part of new amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Regulations, approved by Cabinet today.
The regulations pertain to the Western Cape Liquor Act, 2008, as amended by the Western Cape Liquor Amendment Act 2015. The new regulations will take effect from 1 July 2017.
These changes will allow the province to take the toughest stance to date against the irresponsible and illegal sale of liquor, which is a major contributor towards alcohol related harms in the province.
Amendments to the regulations include the following:
- The maximum penalty for non-compliance that the Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) may issue has been increased from R20 000 to R100 000
- All liquor inspectors are now compelled to issue notices of non-compliance to all illegal outlets. Previously liquor inspectors only inspected licence holders and law enforcement dealt with the illegal outlets. The new regulations now place a responsibility on liquor inspectors to visit all premises or vehicles where reasonable suspicion exists that liquor is being stored, conveyed or sold contrary to the provisions of the Liquor Act.
- Inspectors are further compelled to issue administrative notices if these premises are not fully licenced. The notices shall be passed on to the South African Police Service (SAPS). We will monitor this through our provincial oversight mandate over policing
Changes that encourage fair dispute resolution mechanisms include:
- Reduced red tape for compliant liquor licence holders or those wishing to appeal licensing decisions.
- Shorter appeals procedures,
- The right to appeal for events and temporary licence applications
- A biennial renewal process for compliant licence holders.
- A responsibility on the liquor authority to supply reasons to applicants, if requested, when a licence is not approved.
Cabinet’s approval of the final regulations today shows our government’s commitment to going beyond compliance and monitoring towards the active disruption of the status quo.
Our aim was not to make it more cumbersome or excessively expensive to comply with the regulations.
Instead, we aim to empower liquor inspectors to crack down on liquor traders who are breaking law, while offering fair dispute resolution mechanisms.
The regulations will enhance the ability to prosecute legal outlets who are supplying stock to illegal traders. Licensees must retain copies of invoices for a period of up to three years, as proof that they are not supplying illegal outlets.
Four more liquor inspectors are being appointed to ensure the regulations are properly enforced by the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA).
Historically, there has been an average of 9 fines issued per financial year. This needs to increase dramatically following new powers to address the proliferation of illegal outlets.
Liquor inspectors targeting illegal liquor outlets and non-compliance will be monitored on a month-to-month bases through the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer, to ensure that the new target of at least 100 fines per year are reached.
Increased revenue generation from fines issued and liquor licence fees shall be used to ensure the financial sustainability of the WCLA.
Revenue will be reinvested into alcohol harms reduction efforts in the province, as well as community based structures such as the Neighbourhood Watches and youth development programmes.
We believe that the liquor industry must help pay for the problems it causes.
The abuse of substances in this province, and alcohol in particular, is considered to be one of the key causes of car crashes and interpersonal violence. It is estimated that:
- 70% of crimes in our communities are linked to substance abuse;
- 67% of domestic violence in our communities is alcohol related; and
- 70% of trauma victims in our hospitals test positive for alcohol.
We need to stop this worrying trend, which is why our government identified Alcohol Harms Reduction as one of our six Game Changers.
The Game Changer focuses on three key levers:
- The legalisation of illegal outlets, enforcing compliance with the Liquor Act within the liquor industry and creating safer environments in and around the taverns as well as the broader community;
- Introducing alternative recreational activities that will divert high risk users from abusing alcohol and if possible, offer business opportunities to entrepreneurs; and
- Providing alcohol harms related social and health services to communities.
We intend to align the overall Western Cape Liquor Act to our Game Changer policy. The Community Safety Department will undertake these amendments later this year.
We are also undertaking an urgent review of the capacity of the Appeals Tribunal, with the appointment of a retired Judge to further build on the work done to reduce alcohol harms.
We will be rolling out a number of interventions under the Game Changer levers in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Paarl East in the coming months.
Most importantly, we want communities to become active participants in stopping alcohol abuse and making their neighbourhoods safer.
We can crack down on illegal and irresponsible liquor traders in our communities. We are enabling this through effective liquor regulation, a beefed-up Western Cape Liquor Authority supported by law enforcement agencies, and upcoming changes to the Western Cape Liquor Act.
We encourage citizens to play their part by reporting any illegal and irresponsible trading in their neighbourhoods to the Western Cape Liquor Authority.
Together we can fight alcohol abuse and make our communities safer.