Own goal

If this interpretation of the new Cape Town Liquor By-law is accurate – and there’s no suggestion that it isn’t – then it’s an absolutely massive own goal by our supposedly liberal DA city council.

  • No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption on Sundays, except for wineries.
  • No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption after 6pm on weekdays.
  • No sale of more than 150 litres of alcohol to any one person unless they have a liquor licence or special permission from the Chairman of the Liquor Board.
  • No-one may keep more than 150 litres of wine in their home without a liquor licence.
  • No drinking alcohol in vehicles.
  • No drinking at school functions ever. This applies even if the function is held away from school grounds and on a licenced premises.

For starters, I do agree with the no drinking in vehicles and the school function thing makes some degree of sense on a basic level. But that’s where my support for this ends.

There’s absolutely no question that Cape Town – as with the rest of South Africa – has a huge problem with alcohol. But I fail to see how this new bylaw will help to solve that. Illegal shebeens currently operate with impunity across the city; why will this bylaw prevent them from continuing to do so, with such limited enforcement of the laws that already exist?

The nod to Sundays as being somehow special is backward and unnecessary. Again, exactly how that assists with reducing alcohol abuse is beyond me. Or are we planning on baby steps here – to reduce problem drinking by 1/7th? Is that enough?

And then the whole 150 litres issues. No buying for big parties and even if you could, no taking it home. No wine collections of over 200 bottles – if you have one, you will be breaking the law in a couple of weeks. Are they really going to do dawn raids on posh houses that they suspect may have a wine cellar? It’s pathetic.

And this is just on off sales. The implications for restaurants and bars – and with them, Cape Town’s vital tourist industry – are even more worrying.

I have nothing but contempt for these new regulations. They are short sighted and unhelpful and they risk alienating a huge proportion of the voting public. Without proper enforcement, any law is useless anyway and as we’ve point out with the traffic, there really is no enforcement of our laws here. So what’s the point?

The one thing with our city council is that they do have a history of actually listening to public opinion, so maybe there is some hope that the outcry that this stupid bylaw generates will result in it being changed to something more sensible in the future.
But in the meantime, on the 1st April, we in Cape Town will be living in a beautiful, but backward city. And that’s very sad.

  • The school thing needs clarification – it doesn’t make sense at all to me unless it explicitly includes children in the vicinity. What about a PTA cheese & wine evening, or somesuch? Will have to read the damn bill…

  • Manny Veldsman.

    Think I need a drink after reading this.

  • Jacques > As a parent (and captain of the current PTA Quiz champion team), I was also interested in that.

    Manny Veldsman > Not on a Sunday you don’t.

  • Nicole

    Do you think a mass tweet to Helen Zille would help?

    What type of public outcry would? People have been speaking about this since it was just a mere suggestion of a law. Now it’s on the verge of being implemented. So why would they listen now?

  • Also bottle stores having to close at 6pm is like going back to 1990.

  • Nicole > cc @HelenZille, you mean? I doubt it.
    But fair point – what will make them listen?
    AFAIK, HZ has been very quiet on this. And I’m not surprised. It’s not something I would want to publicise if it was my idea.

    Bloubergman > So stoopid.

  • Nicole

    Yeah exactly… I mean I feel like they sort of spoke about it ( last year? year before?), everyone freaked out, so then they kept quiet until, oops! It’s a law!

    Of course I don’t know who “they” are exactly, and I could be wrong… but I *usually* hear about these things through channels.

  • Nicole > If they could explain rationale, I’d be more willing to accept it.
    For example, I can see good reason for the no booze in cars and I can understand the school thing too. The rest just doesn’t make sense. Unless I’m missing something here?

  • Rory

    This fucks up lots:-

    – The annual German School beer fest (similar events are held at many government schools bringing in much needed funding)

    – Stopping at Harleys at 7pm/8pm on the way home from work after a 10 hour slog at work – to get that special spur of the moment bottle of vino or a lekker scotch

    – No mention of (for example) craft beer being taken off site on Sundays, there goes the stops at Darling, Stanford, etc for beer tastings and purchases (Thumb suck says that Sundays are probably of the better days for these smaller producers)

    – Saying cheers to my dreams of owning more than my humble 75 bottle mini collection of wine.

    Wow, are we still allowed to use wine in our Coq au Vins. Probably not on a Sunday.

  • Gary

    How big an impact is this really going to have? Every bottle store in my area already closes before 6 anyway (usually around 5:30), is already closed on Sundays (even the booze aisles in supermarkets are closed), and how many people really have 200 bottle wine collections? No one I know does.

    Bottom line is that we’ll simply need to plan a bit better, and keep some “strategic stock” at home for those times when the bottle stores are closed. Just not more than 200 bottles of such stock!

    As for restaurants, note that the laws specifically states “off sales”. Which doesn’t include restaurants (unless of course you want to buy a bottle from them to take home).

    So at the end of the day, this legislation, for the far majority of Capetonians, will come into being with absolutely no impact whatsoever.

  • Rory > Yep, silly rules will make many things difficult.
    But Darling and Stanford will be unaffected by this Cape Town bylaw, as I understand it.

    Gary > Every bottle store in my area closes at 8pm. So there’s 12 hours less trading time each week for starters.
    Of course, they also open at 8am, so problem drinkers will obviously stop drinking because of not being able to (legally) buy booze after 6pm.
    How many people have 200+ bottles in their wine collections? Literally thousands, I would say. All of them, criminals in 2 weeks time. Which will prevent alcohol abuse, won’t it…? Somehow…? Because…? (please explain this?)
    There are separate, equally draconian rules for licensed establishments.

    So at the end of the day, this legislation, for the far majority of Capetonians, will come into being with absolutely no impact whatsoever.

    It will inconvenience tens of thousands of individuals, it will close businesses (party buses, for example, are now completely illegal), and it will make absolutely sod all difference to alcohol abuse because none of it will be correctly enforced anyway.


  • You’re right, it’s an own goal. I work for a hotel in the Waterfront. Until last year a liquor license cost R500 per year. When we renewed our license this past December the new price was R3000. Now, with the new laws, we have to pay an additional R5700 for an amended license by the end of this month. This will enable us to serve liquor on Sundays and after 2 am (via room service). However, this past week the V&A notified us that because there is a service station in the Waterfront, we have to apply for a further exemption because apparently you cannot sell liquor from the same erf as a service station. I have no idea how much this is going to cost, but the cut-off date is 27 March. And how my hotel on the other side of the Waterfront can be deemed to be on the same erf as the service station at the entrance!

    This amendment to the law has no place in a supposedly world class tourist city!

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