Just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address and a desperate plea for citizens to comply with Level 3 lockdown restrictions and regulations, there are still some who continue to try their luck. In the early hours of the new year, Phuthaditjhaba POP task team received information about a person who was transporting alcohol in a Funeral Parlour vehicle.
The funeral parlour vehicle was eventually traced and found in Harrismith, Free State. Thereafter, the vehicle was searched and alcohol to the value of R5 000 was confiscated. “The 23-year-old suspect was arrested and detained for transporting liquor during adjusted Level 3 Regulations,” said Brigadier Motantsi Makhele.
The suspect will appear before the Harrismith Magistrate’s Court and will be charged under the Disaster Management Act. South Africa Liquor Brand Association (SALBA) spokesperson Sibani Mngadi, shortly after the two-week alcohol ban was instituted by government and President Cyril Ramaphosa, said citizens should have been given a chance to purchase alcohol legally.
In other words, Mngadi suggested a sort of window period in which people could have bought alcohol before the ban. “It has been proven that during Level 5 and Level 4 of lockdown, illegal traders and syndicates started selling – that is the area we are concerned about.
“We’d have wished that the government would have given a limited opportunity for people to purchase liquor legally. The ban is an opportunity for the illegal alcohol trade to go ahead,” said Mngadi.
Back in April, while the COVID-19 pandemic was still somewhat new, Mngadi said an alcohol ban allowed criminal syndicates to find a gap in the market. “Our view is that criminal syndicates have found a gap in the market with the prohibition of formal sale of alcoholic beverages.
“The value of R500 000 is actually a conservative estimate had those counterfeit brands been sold at their normal retail prices. But we know that with current high consumer demand, prices in the illicit market have skyrocketed.”
“The refilling of branded bottles with counterfeit liquid is having a major negative impact on consumer perception of our brands. It is therefore in both our commercial and public health interest to assist the police curbing this criminal activity,” added Mngadi.