What to do about excessive alcohol consumption in South Africa?
Johannesburg, the former mining camp, has always been a hard-drinking town. It’s even been said that city blocks in this metropolis are smaller than others because more bars could then be fitted on to corners.
Last week this newspaper reported that Linda Mti, the former commissioner of correctional services, has been arrested at least three times for driving under the influence of alcohol.
This week the Star reported that Judge Nkola Motata’s blood-alcohol level was four times over the legal limit—which his lawyer disputed—when a blood sample was drawn from him following his car accident in Johannesburg last year.
There is an almost constant stream of allegations about other high-profile South Africans getting rip-roaringly drunk.
What is not in dispute is that excessive consumption leads to unsafe behaviour—whether sexually or on the roads.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a quick trip to the ATM or a ‘spot fine” of R250 is all that’s needed to persuade the often poorly-paid law-enforcement officer. Many earn less than R10 000; when manning a dark road, late at night, the temptation to subsidise their income by a few thousand rand each month is often too great to resist.
What to do? Botswana hiked alcohol prices by 70% in August, and threatened a hike of 100% if there was not a change in behaviour. That said, it seems that alcohol remains a refuge into which many ordinary South Africans choose to escape, just like their leaders.
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August 28 to September 3
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2. Mugabe prepares for next move
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3. Mugabe to defy MDC and name Cabinet
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4. ‘If the Scorpions bite the wrong people we will kill them’
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5. AU’s patience with Zim wears thin
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6. Mbeki to chart way forward in Zim talks
South African President Thabo Mbeki is to chart the way forward in stalled talks for a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe after meeting representatives from the main political parties, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamisa said in a state newspaper article published on Sunday.
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