“There is not one single approach to address the problem of alcohol abuse. The latest research indicates that a multi-pronged approach needs to be followed, which includes demand, supply and harm reduction.”
This is according to Aurora Alcohol and Drug Centre’s senior social worker, Marietjie Landsberg.
Landsberg says that although an outright ban on sales usually feeds the illegal market for alcohol, restrictions on sales may be part of the solution to fighting alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse has come under the spotlight following a third national ban on the sale and public consumption of alcoholic drinks. Three women died in Bloemfontein earlier this month after allegedly consuming a mixture of paraffin and hand sanitiser, among other ingredients, on New Year’s Eve and two days after.
On a national scale, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his latest Covid-19 update national address, results of the ban have been swift with a sharp decline in trauma admissions related to alcohol consumption in hospital emergency rooms.
Free State Provincial Police spokesperson, Thandi Mbambo, denied claims that the lethal concoction was purchased by the group of local youths, including the three deceased. “No arrests have been made as indicated by the Department of Health, as it seems that the victims made the concoction themselves but investigation is still continuing,” she reported.
Mbambo also added that police have taken a hands-on approach in dealing with illegal alcohol sales since the current prohibition began in December 2020. “The issue of illegal alcohol is policed under the prescribed Disaster Management Act, through enforcement of Covid-19 Regulations,” she said.
According to Free State Health spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, the group of locals who mixed and ingested the deadly brew were aged between 20 and 26. MEC Montseng Tsiu pleaded with young people to learn from this horrific incident. “Our youth must focus on things that will enhance their future rather than experiment with drugs. Drugs are a drawback and as we have seen they also kill,” she concluded.