500 signatures reached
To: South African Breweries, Vinpro and others
Stop your alcohol ban court challenges and unite behind government's COVID-19 effort
We - concerned individuals, civil society organisations, and public health workers and researchers - call on SA Breweries, Vinpro and others to drop their court challenges to government's lawful, constitutional mandate to restrict the transportation and sale of alcohol during a State of Disaster or State of Emergency. It is a distraction and a waste of resources, particularly those of government, that could be put to better use fighting the pandemic!
Why is this important?
Put people before profit
South Africans have emerged from the second wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths which started in November 2020 and drew to a close towards the end of January. One of the steps taken to reduce the spread of the virus and to limit unnecessary demand on hospital facilities was to suspend the transportation and sale of alcohol. This, together with other measures, helped to stem the virus, so much so that the infection and death rates are down and the suspension of access to alcohol has been limited.
Health workers are exhausted. They are working hard and long hours to treat COVID-19 patients. They themselves are being infected by the virus, with some even losing their lives. They need our support. The temporary ban on the sale of alcohol offered them vital protection.
South African Breweries (SAB), Vinpro (representing winemakers) and others have responded by going to court to challenge government’s right to suspend the transportation and sale of alcohol, even though the evidence shows that such suspensions, together with other measures like night-time curfews, have helped to stop the spread of the virus, to keep people in South Africa safe from alcohol-related harm, and to allow hospital workers to focus on COVID-19 cases.
Although we support the right to protest and to use the courts to ensure rights are protected, we do not think these court cases are the solution to addressing our collective challenge in dealing with the pandemic.
Since 2016, the South African government has had an updated National Liquor Policy and a draft Liquor Amendment Bill which contain new provisions for regulating the distribution and sale of alcohol. The Policy and the Bill are based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol . The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the harmful use of alcohol contributes disproportionately to the number of trauma admissions in hospitals across South Africa, especially over weekends. We are therefore in urgent need of permanent new measures to regulate alcohol in order to save lives, money and jobs.
Only 31% of people in South Africa aged 15 and above actually drink alcohol. But, when they do, the majority of them drink heavily and in a way that is harmful to themselves and others. The alcohol industry depends on this binge-drinking to make their substantial profits, hence their resistance to the current ban and to alcohol regulation in general.
OUR CALL TO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANISATIONS IN CIVIL SOCIETY, AS WELL AS PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS AND RESEARCHERS
** Help us send a message to SA Breweries, Vinpro and others, calling on them to drop their court actions because “our lives are more important than their profits”.
** Join us in assuring government that we all support their efforts to manage alcohol in the interests of protecting us from harm during the pandemic.
** Add your voice to the call for the urgent passing of the Liquor Amendment Bill as a major step forward in the ongoing struggle for a healthy and safe South Africa. The immediate adoption of the Bill will help to bring alcohol-related harm levels down by promoting safer drinking practices; it will also reduce the need for emergency alcohol sale suspensions now and in the future.
THIS PETITION IS SUPPORTED BY SAAPA SA ALLIANCE PARTNERS, INCLUDING:
Cancer Association of South Africa; Children's Institute; Gateway Health Institute; Gun Free South Africa; Hlanganisa Institute for Development in Southern Africa; Observatory Ratepayers Association; People's Health Movement; Smoking and Alcohol Harms Alleviation and Rehabilitation Association; South Africans Against Drinking and Driving; Teddy Bear Foundation for Abused Children; Yeoville Bellevue Ratepayers Association