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A dark history of alcohol dependency: Does SA have what it takes to sober up?

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The lockdown has highlighted South Africa's toxic relationship with alcohol
The lockdown has highlighted South Africa's toxic relationship with alcohol
Gallo Images/Getty


For decades, South Africa has had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and the Covid-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the issue but also shows that dealing with it will require some serious thinking from the government and the industry.

The country’s alcohol consumption problems can be traced back to the "dop system" used by Dutch farmers in the Western Cape to pay workers with alcohol, creating cheap labour and an alcohol dependency that kept the workers on the farms.

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