Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko, on Friday 5 June, said there have been 18 fatalities in five days since the sale of alcohol was permitted. 

After an alcohol ban of around two months, citizens were given the go-ahead to purchase alcohol under Lockdown Level 3 which began on 1 June. 

Mazibuko confirmed the number at the Gauteng Provincial Command Council weekly media update on COVID-19. There she was joined by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

CONCERN OVER ALCOHOL SALES 

Masuku backed Mazibuko saying: 

“We are very concerned about the relaxing of the regulations with regards to alcohol. We have seen an upsurge in our trauma units from Monday, which was the first day of the sale of alcohol.” 

While most citizens are satisfied with the unbanning of alcohol, some are outraged, claiming it is burdening hospitals and its staff and causing deaths that could have otherwise been prevented. 

Masuku essentially echoed what the Economic Freedom Fighters said on Wednesday 3 June in a statement.

The red berets said the prohibition of the sale of alcohol — and tobacco products for that matter — gave the country an opportunity to imagine a different reality. 

The EFF said it has noted disturbing reports since the beginning of lockdown Level 3: 

“The CEO of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has reported that in the last 24 hours patients in their trauma units doubled. Majority of these patients were drunk, with stab wounds, and some were involved in accidents.” 

“South Africa’s healthcare system is already overburdened; hospitals are overcrowded with a shortage of medical resources and dilapidated infrastructure,” it added. 

The EFF said that if the government continues to permit the sale of alcohol, it would only be condoning the untimely deaths of many South Africans. 

GOVERNMENT DEALT A BLOW ON CIGARETTE BAN 

Although the alcohol ban has been lifted, the cigarette ban is still in place and a battle to lift the ban is underway, there’s no doubt about that. 

On Thursday 4 June, it was confirmed that the government had failed to secure a postponement in their battle with the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA). This is the second time the state has been unsuccessful in trying to push the hearing back. 

The matter is now expected to be heard next Tuesday and Wednesday 9 and 10 June, at the Pretoria High Court. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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