Make the Liquor Laws Work For You

Sibongile Mafu

The month of March is drawing to a close, and this can only mean one thing: April Fool's Day is approaching, and what some might call the biggest prank yet: the roll-out of the new liquor laws, starting in Cape Town.

I use the term "new" loosely as it has been something that has been happening in several areas over time, but now the big cities will start to feel the burn, and not just from the tequila shots. When South Africans finally heard confirmation of the dreaded news, there was mild hysteria, many believing it was an April Fool's joke. Cape Town will be the first city to experience these changes. People have now started to think of ways to adjust their lifestyles in order to make these laws work for them.

I read Food24's Wine Editor, Cathy Marston’s piece "No more buying alcohol on Sundays" a few weeks ago, just to be able to understand the new rules myself. I had to digest them, and have been able to see where I, and you, can make the necessary changes in order for this to not be a difficult process.

Here are a few suggestions from me as to the minor tweaks you can make to guarantee this transition is easier.

1. "No alcohol can be taken home for off-consumption on Sundays, except for wineries." Sundays have always been the go-to days for those who always leave it too late. Those who wanted a beverage with their Sunday lunch and supper would nip out for a quick nip will now have to make their purchase a day, or several days before. Put it on your grocery list.

2. "No alcohol will be sold for off-consumption after 6pm on Sundays." This is the one that will hit most of regular South Africa in the stomach. The convenience of being able to pop to the bottle store after work to grab your cold ones will cease. People will soon be angered even more by traffic which will now stand in their way of them and their six-pack. Many will miss the cut-off time, often, like those poor stragglers who don' finish the Comrades in time. We congratulate them for their effort, but in our hearts we know that they have achieved nothing. More and more employees will come up with interesting excuses to duck out of the office early. Is this the unproductive South Africa we want?

3. "No sale of alcohol of more than 150 litres of alcohol to any one person unless they have a liquor licence or special permission." Many mass gatherings and traditional ceremonies around the country just sighed. "That uncle" who bought litres and litres of alcohol for himself at a time, will have to do with another strategy. Preparation will have to be key in being able to navigate your life around these new laws. Or perhaps more alcohol-free themed parties will start popping up, just to avoid the effort of applying for licences.

4. "No one may keep more than 150 litres of wine in their home without a liquor licence." So you've been building up quite an impressive wine collection in your home? Time to make it official and get that paperwork sorted. Thankfully most people don't have the self-control to be able to keep more than 5 bottles of wine in their home at a time, as most of it just ends up stored in their throats, so I think for many this won't be too much of a problem.

5. No more drinking in vehicles, even if you aren't the driver. If you'll be having a designated driver, don't take advantage of that by swinging your bottle around in the car. When you're out, be out, and perhaps the party is temporarily halted once in the car. Newly eligible drinkers may have trouble with this one as the desire to drink anywhere and everywhere takes over.

6. And finally, "no drinking at school functions." Those naughty matric dance toasts with champagne, and mimosas for graduation: out. Basically anything related to a celebration around a school function environment will be no more. Be joyful at home.

Perhaps these new laws won't curb the statistics around drinking and driving or around South Africa being one of the countries which consumes the largest volume of alcohol but it's probably a nice feeling for those in power to feel like they’re doing something.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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