The transportation of alcohol will be allowed during the Easter long weekend.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma caused a stir on Thursday when she said at a media briefing that roadblocks would be set up and that the transportation of alcohol would not be allowed.
"Over the weekend, the police will be doing roadblocks and stuff. [People] are not allowed to be carrying alcohol and stuff from one place to the other," she said on Thursday morning.
But in an apparent about-turn on Thursday afternoon, Dlamini-Zuma's spokesperson Mlungisi Mtshali told Talk Radio 702 that people would be allowed to transport their own alcohol.
"The short answer is yes, people can transport their own alcohol, even between provinces.
"There is no risk that your alcohol will be confiscated," he said.
Industry members expressed concern over a lack of clarity.
Speaking to Fin24, National Liquor Traders Council national convener Lucky Ntimane said he had sought information from the department regarding the distribution of liquor. Alcohol distribution licences are separate to retail licences, in that distributors are licenced to sell to retailers who are licenced to sell to consumers only.
"I called the spokesperson and my question was can distributers sell alcohol to the licenced market over the four-day period and the answer is a yes, so they can prop up the market that is open, which are restaurants and pubs," Ntimane said. Fin24 was unable to confirm this response from Mtshali independently.
Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, meanwhile, had earlier expressed concern that the minister's statement could lead to harassment of travellers who were taking their own food and drinks to self-catering establishments.
Danie Cronjé, a liquor law attorney, meanwhile wrote on LinkedIn: "The 'new' Regulation 81 does not contain any prohibition on the transportation of liquor by the holders of liquor licences or members of the public."
Cronje told Fin24 that in his opinion, Dlamini-Zuma had erred in her earlier statement. "The wording of the regulation is very clear," Cronje said, adding that he expected the department to issue a statement to clear up the issue.
By Thursday evening, spokesperson Lungi Mtshali had not responded to Fin24’s texts and calls for comment.
* Additional reporting by Carin Smith. This article was updated at 20:14 on Thursday 1 April.