Level 2: Govt concerned after 820 arrested in Gauteng at the weekend, many for drunk driving

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  • The government has called on the public to play their part in the fight against alcohol abuse in the wake of drunk driving arrests under Level 2.
  • Two police officers were among 820 people arrested on the road.
  • The alcohol industry called on traders and consumers to abide by the lockdown regulations.

The government on Monday expressed concern at reports of alcohol abuse, recklessness and fatal road accidents after the easing of restrictions under Level 2.

It has been a week since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol as part of the national implementation of Level 2 regulations.

News24 reported that more than 820 people were arrested in Gauteng over the weekend, including two police officers, for a number of crimes, notably driving under the influence of alcohol. 

"The recent spate of fatal accidents following the reopening of liquor sales is a cause for concern," government spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement on Monday.

READ | Accidents, arrests and deaths: South Africans booze it up under Level 2

"While many South Africans are responsible in their use of alcohol, government and society cannot sit idle while lives are being destroyed as a result of alcohol abuse and binge drinking. "We have noticed that some people do not abide by alert Level 2 regulations, which place restrictions on gathering, and we urge law enforcement authorities to play their role in bringing the culprits to book."

She welcomed the call by Police Minister Bheki Cele for police to be tough on alcohol consumption and driving.

Williams called on all citizens to be responsible.

"We urge road users, especially drivers, to take extra care and exercise utmost vigilance on the road."

The alcohol industry said in a statement on Monday evening that it supported the government's call to fight alcohol abuse.

It also appreciated the opportunity to continue trading.

"As part of the industry's push for a social compact with all stakeholders, we are continuing to develop programmes in partnership with the relevant government entities, and we should get to the implementation stage soon," said industry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi.

Projects proposed by the industry included the establishment of Alcohol Evidence Assessment Centres for blood concentration levels to be tested, and the results immediately made available to support a successful prosecution. 

"We call on traders and consumers alike to abide by all the lockdown rules and make sure that drinking occasions do not contribute to the spread of infections and an unnecessary burden on the health system," said Mngadi. 

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