Alcohol seems to be a luxury that many South Africans are willing to spend their money on. Under the Covid-19 lockdown regulations the selling of alcohol has been prohibited and as a result all big alcohol outlets have been closed.
However, that has not stopped individuals from selling alcohol to those who are willing to pay any price for it. The illegal selling of alcohol has been very prominent in the townships of South Africa, with many seeing it as a business opportunity to sell alcohol beverages at double the original price.
Speaking to Move! 30-year-old Siyanda Ndlovu* from Johannesburg says the lockdown has been costing him a lot.
“We are buying alcohol for double if not triple the amount we would pay at a liquor store, the prices are totally insane, these days a bottle costs me R600-R700 and a single beer would normally cost R17.50 but right now its sold for R50,” he says.
“I often buy alcohol every weekend and I would spend R600-R1000 a day if I’m calculating correctly. During the lockdown, I have spent close to R5000”.
Because he is also an individual who smokes he says that cigarettes are also too expensive with a packet being sold for R120.
“I mostly buy my cigarettes in singles for R6 each instead of the packet”.
Another one who has been spending a lot of money on alcohol is 26-year-old Thabang James* from Cape Town.
Thabang says that he has been drinking every weekend since the lockdown began as he would when life was still normal.
Speaking to Move! Thabang says,
“A single bottle first started at R350 and now it has gone up to R450-R500 where I live during the weekend we always come together as friends and put money together to get these bottles as the prices are too high”.
Although there is a nationwide lockdown and social distancing is heavily encouraged, Thabang and his friends still buy three bottles a night and the equally contribute so that they do not feel the burn in their pockets.
“We all know that one bottle wont last three guys for an entire night, so we buy three bottles. On a Sunday if we do not want to spend too much, we will put money together to buy a few bottles of wine that cost R150 each instead of a whiskey”.
“We don’t do it because we are alcoholics it’s just that sometimes we need to destress, I am currently working from home during the week and so during the weekend its nice to relax on a Saturday and have a drink,” he says.
He says that he has spent roughly over R2000 on alcohol during this lockdown.
“I do have regrets at the end of the day about using so much money, when I could have used that money to buy more groceries or data but at the end of the day I made a conscious decision to buy alcohol so that I can be happy for that time while I’m drinking”.
“Prices are ridiculous, but we do not know how long the lockdown is going to be, people who are stingy are drinking home-made pineapple beer that is bad for you and I don’t want that. I will continue buying alcohol as long as I buy groceries for my family first,” he adds.
“People want alcohol and since the liquor stores are closed that is a business opportunity to capitalise on”. He says.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the interviewees.