Drink up

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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Most-read stories

August 28 to September 3

1. Top brass tackles ANC Youth League
The African National Congress national executive committee has asked the party’s president, Jacob Zuma, to rein in ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, believing that he is overreaching himself by making policy statements in the ANC’s name.

2. Mugabe prepares for next move
Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe has been pegged back in a week of setbacks, but is preparing to reverse his opponents’ gains in Parliament by hunkering down and going it alone, even if this leaves Zimbabwe at a constitutional dead-end.

3. Mugabe to defy MDC and name Cabinet
Zimbabwe’s veteran ruler, Robert Mugabe, will defy the opposition and form a new government despite stalled power-sharing talks after contested polls, the junior information minister said on Thursday.

4. ‘If the Scorpions bite the wrong people we will kill them’
A top official from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has warned that the African National Congress will not hesitate to “kill” the Scorpions if they continued to pursue ANC president Jacob Zuma, the Sowetan newspaper reported on Monday.

5. AU’s patience with Zim wears thin
African Union chair Tanzania wants to see a 50-50 power-sharing deal agreed for Zimbabwe immediately to stem a growing economic crisis, Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

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.

7. Dirty trick fails
Two senior ANC officials in the Western Cape are being investigated for allegedly doctoring and then leaking a party audit in an attempt to damn the party’s provincial secretary, Mcebisi Skwatsha.

8. Table Bay ‘sale’: the real story
The gleaming new parking facility at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront has an on-site Aston Martin dealership in a prime seafront position to let you know where you stand in the order of things. Its critics in V&A management call it the Garage Mahal.

9. Mugabe’s govt plans ‘a recipe for disaster’
Zimbabwe’s opposition said on Wednesday it will not join any new government with President Robert Mugabe until power-sharing talks are concluded. This was after the 84-year-old declared he would name his own Cabinet.

10. Put pressure on Mugabe, says MDC
Zimbabwe’s main opposition called on regional powers on Monday to pressure President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party to be more flexible in power-sharing talks.

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