Young drinkers scoff at proposal to raise legal age

2011-03-12 17:41

It’s 8pm on a Friday night and young people are streaming into clubs and bars looking for a good time.

The night is still young – they are here to drink and have fun. And drink they do.

Dressed in their finest clothes, most down beers and ciders, seemingly without a care in the world.

As the witching hour draws closer, the young revellers in Newtown and Soweto, Johannesburg, take to the dance floor – drinks in hand – and get lost in the adrenaline of the music.

Many of them are between the ages of 18 and 21 – and the proposed new drinking age has them hot under the collar.

Under discussion at national government level is a proposal to raise the legal drinking age to 21 in an effort to address some of the ­social ills caused by alcohol.

Tlabi Monnakgotla (23) from Soweto said: “We were speaking about this on Facebook and I told the person who had put it up as their status that this isn’t going to work. If I could buy booze at the age of 16, what’s going to change it now?

“Eighteen-year-olds these days look like 21-year-olds. When I was 18, I looked as if I was 20, so this new proposed law isn’t going to make a difference.”

Alberton resident Alaister Russel (20) believes that the policy proposal “would actually cause a big problem. I think if the government does enforce it, it’s going to cause a lot of outrage among 18, 19, 20-year-olds who have already been drinking.

“It’s going to piss them off and make them angry because they have already accepted the fact that they can drink.”

But some welcome the proposed legislation as they believe it will enforce a certain degree of control.

“I support it. Have you seen how many under-aged kids there are in this club? It’s scary. Even though I don’t think the law will stop people under age drinking, it will make club owners think twice about selling alcohol to under-age kids,” said 23-year-old Tebogo Maboe.

For the youths gathered at their favourite drinking holes, however, the debate around the proposed legislation is just an afterthought – and the party goes on.

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