COMMEMORATING: Runners participate in the 21km race in honour of 21 Enyobeni victims. Picture: MARK ANDREWSOn June 21, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board confirmed it has received R220m to implement measures to curb underage drinking.
These measures include legislatively increasing the distances for liquor licence applications from a 100m to 500m radius from churches and schools.
ECLB confirmed the recommendation to change the legislation was made in 2022 but will only reflect in 2024.
ECLB senior manager for licensing Pumlani Tyali said changing the distance will force applicants to consult nearby schools and churches.
According to Tyali, ECLB found that principals and pastors were signing in agreements without informing parents or congregants.
The legislative change will force the governing bodies to conduct a parents’ or church meeting to allow all stakeholders to comment.
This will also strengthen the section 225 notice the ECLB institutes to enforce community based consultation.
It will also address confusion among prospective applicants that are measuring distances between buildings instead of boundary lines. It will also enable the liquor board to reduce the density of applications it receives.
In March, pupils from more than 20 local schools were caught inebriated on McJannet Drive in Baysville after a sports festival and on June 26, hundreds of pupils converged on Quigney for a pens down party that culminated in five pupils being admitted to hospital for excessive drinking.
Ward councillor for Nahoon, Jason MacDowell, who has been running anti- public drinking campaigns on Nahoon Beach and Nahoon Nature Reserve, welcomed the change, however he believed it wouldl not be effective without increased policing.
Ward councillor for the Quigney area, Funeka Woloshe said: “Increasing the distance in legislation will take years to come into effect and the legal owners will not take changes lying down, there will be endless litigation.
“Some of the outlets are just few steps from churches and schools. The question is, how did they get the licences and what is been done with the violation of existing regulations?
“The Enyobeni tragedy needs to serve as a reminder that establishments running without liquor licences and no proper enforcement of bylaws, could lead to fatalities.
“The Liquor Board needs to intensify compliance and law enforcement must play its part.
“Fixing one issue will not help the situation in its entirety.”
Stirling High School principal Doug Prior said the school had a strict policy enforcing parents to fetch pupils immediately after derby games and the SAPS conducted random searches.
Prior said: “I support the proposal, as pupils walk to the outlet where they are sold liquor on occasions without showing their ID.”
Grens Hoerskool principal Lorraine Knickelbein said increasing the distance would not deter pupils bring alcohol to school in their bags. She believed greater attention needed to be paid to enforcing stricter policies at taverns and liquor outlets.
To curb any underage drinking at the annual Grens Hoerskool Sports Festival next year, Knickelbein said the police would be treating the festival as a public event.
In addition to increasing the distances, the ECLB will appoint five more licensing inspectors (taking the total to 21) and implement a peer-to-peer school-based ambassador programme.
The ambassador programme has been rolled out at Gqeberha schools and will launch in East London in the new financial year. It involves four pupils from each school creating and driving anti-underage drinking campaigns.
Chief inspector, Zola Tyikwe said inspectors would focus on outlets in residential areas and conduct pre-registration and post-registration inspections to ensure compliance from outlets, especially when it comes to requesting IDs from patrons.
He said: “It remains a criminal offence to sell liquor to minors and we rely on community members to report outlets they believe are supplying liquor to minors.”
To commemorate the 21 lives lost last year at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, the ECLB hosted a 21km run on Sunday with each kilometre dedicated to one of the victims.
The ECLB toll free line is: 0800-000-420.