Should the legal drinking age be changed?
- The deaths of 21 people at the Enyobeni Tavern in East London has raised questions over increasing the legal drinking age from 18 to 21-years-old.
- One expert believes South Africa needs better enforcement of liquor laws.
- The proposed Liquor Amendment Bill could have stricter liquor regulations.
The tragic death of 21 people at the Enyobeni Tavern in East London has once again raised a contentious question - should government raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21-years-old?
There's a been widespread outcry over the deaths of the teenagers over the weekend, the cause which has yet to be determined.
The tavern has been shut down, as police investigate the cause of death. The Eastern Cape Liquor Board now plans to lay criminal charges against the tavern owners and have its liquor licence revoked.
One expert believes that South Africa has strong legislation regulating the sale of alcohol. In terms of the law, Section 10 of the National Liquor Act states that a person "must not sell or supply liquor or mentholated spirits to a minor".
It further states that "a person must take reasonable measures to determine accurately whether that person is a minor before selling liquor or mentholated spirits to that minor". The penalty if someone contravenes this law is a fine not exceeding R1 million or imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Africa Melane spoke to Johan Du Toit, a hospitality law expert at Barnard Incorporated Attorneys about what needs to be done to change the South African legal drinking age from 18 to 21-years-old.
The legislation is there, it comes down to enforcement. The same argument goes for lowering the speed limit to stop the death toll on our roads. Unless it's policed with more effectiveness, I doubt people will adhere to the law, even if the drinking age is 21.Johan du Toit, Hospitality Law Expert at Barnard Incorporated Attorneys
The Liquor Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, proposes a number of wide-reaching changes, including increasing the drinking age to 21 and prohibiting alcohol sales and advertising on small media and other forms of media.
Studies by Nedlac show this will be an effective measure to reduce the alcohol binge drinking trends by 5% to 7%. It's a good idea, but if it's not going to be enforced, we're going to continue to see incidents like the one at Enyobeni Tavern in the Eastern Cape.Johan du Toit, Hospitality Law Expert at Barnard Incorporated Attorneys
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