FAKE NEWS | Alcohol sales ban will not be reinstated, confirms Cogta

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Cape Town residents lining-up outside a liquor store in Green Point after a hoax message that alcohol sales was about to be banned again went viral.
Cape Town residents lining-up outside a liquor store in Green Point after a hoax message that alcohol sales was about to be banned again went viral.
Paul Herman, News24
  • Rumours that the ban on the sale of liquor would be reinstated started circulating on social media and WhatsApp on Tuesday.
  • The rumours are untrue and have been confirmed as such by the Presidency and Cogta.
  • People started queuing at bottle stores on Tuesday afternoon to restock on alcohol.

Rumours that have surfaced alleging the ban on the sale of alcohol will be reinstated on Tuesday evening are not true.

This is according to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Lungi Mtshali, who confirmed to News24 the rumours are nothing more than "fake news".

Mtshali added that these rumours appeared to benefit the alcohol industry and that, as people started to rush to stock up at bottle stores, issues of physical distancing arose.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu also confirmed that Ramaphosa would not be addressing the nation on Tuesday evening and that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had not taken a decision to prohibit the sale of alcohol.

A queue almost 30 metres long snaking outside of the Tops in Robindale, Johannesburg. (Janetha du Toit, Supplied)
Tops bottle store
Two shoppers leave a Tops bottle store in northern Johannesburg.
Pick n Pay
Shoppers queue for alcohol at a Pick n Pay outlet in Cape Town.

READ| Mbalula: SA can't ban alcohol but law on sales must be reviewed

The NCCC did indeed meet on Tuesday, which was confirmed by a statement by the Presidency, postponing Ramaphosa's planned engagement with the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef).

"The Presidency has requested the postponement to allow the president to attend to engagements that include today's meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council," acting spokesperson for the president, Tyrone Seale, said.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula also postponed his briefing on the new transport regulations and directives as a result of the NCCC sitting.

Spokesperson and attorney for the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) Ashton Mooney also quelled fears about the ban, saying the rumours were untrue.

"We urge everyone to act responsibly during this time and avoid spreading unsubstantiated statements that simply cause panic," Mooney said.

People lined up outside their local bottle stores to restock, following the emergence of a voice note that started making rounds on Tuesday.

In the voice note, an unidentified man claims the ban was announced on the news, which is patently untrue.

The peddling of what can only be seen as disinformation said the ban was being reinstated because of alcohol-related trauma that occurred over the weekend, and that Ramaphosa would be addressing the nation.

Outside a Tops bottle store in Bryanston, the clinking and clanging of bottles piled into trolleys could be heard as a constant flow of shoppers emerged with their stock.

The queue grew longer as the 5pm deadline for sales fast approached.

While some believed the threat of another ban was just a rumour, as they had not seen official confirmation in the news, they said they weren't taking any chances.

"It's just a rumour, but we've seen a ban before," said a woman, who had rushed to the store before it closed.

A man in the queue asked if everyone was waiting to "get into heaven" as he stood at back of the single-file line.

He pondered whether "we have a problem" - alluding to South Africa's levels of alcohol consumption.

The ban on the sale of alcohol was initially introduced as the country went into what is now known as lockdown Level 5 on 27 March.

On 1 June, the sale of alcohol was permitted as the country moved to Level 3 of the lockdown.

However, the ban was reinstated shortly after because of alcohol-related trauma placing strain on hospitals.

The ban was once again lifted on 18 August as the country moved to Level 2 of the lockdown - and, for first the first time since Level 5, the sale of tobacco products was also permitted.

- Additional reporting by Sheldon Morais.

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