The confiscation of alcohol is one of the most crucial elements in the City of Cape Town’s annual festive season operational plan, due to the known link between alcohol consumption and a decrease in safety, with alcohol being the second leading cause of fatal drownings.
These are among the many other reasons the City’s Law Enforcement Department, supported by its Metro Police counterparts, place such heavy emphasis on alcohol confiscation. “It is for these same reasons that the City conducts a sustained awareness and education campaign to highlight the dangers of alcohol to road users, beachgoers and the public in general,” JP Smith, Mayco Member for Safety and Security, says.
The City’s Liquor Enforcement Unit collated the statistics from December 1 2018 to January 15 2019, which found that a total of 11 389 bottles of alcohol were confiscated, equating to 7 299.72 litres. However, these numbers, although high, were actually lower than those of the two previous years.
“This represents a 15% drop year-on-year and a near 40% drop from the 2016/17 festive season,” Smith says.
“The level of enforcement has remained constant year-on-year, although we take into account that the holiday season was notably shorter than previous years and the weather might have been a factor too, particularly on Boxing Day when beach visitor numbers were decidedly lower than usual,” Smith adds. “That said, there have been some significant shifts on priority days over the festive season, particularly relating to the switching on of the festive lights, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. I’d like to think that it is no coincidence either that we experienced a sharp reduction in the number of fatal drowning incidents.”
The confiscations followed the overall downward trend apart from at the beaches of Table View and Silwerstroom, which reflect a year-on-year increase.
“Historically, beaches between Macassar and Gordon’s Bay and those on the Atlantic Seaboard have had the highest number of confiscations and, while these areas continue to account for the bulk of confiscations, there has been a noticeable reduction in both areas,” Smith says. “The City cannot pinpoint with certainty the reasons behind the shift in trends, but we do welcome it and hope that we can sustain it going forward. Awareness campaigns around this problem have been very prominent over the last few years and one suspects that this has something to do with the higher levels of compliance.”
Smith also commends those who understand the value and importance of having an alcohol-free day out, and the City’s task is made easier by those who respect the law and hold the safety of others in high regard.
“However, we are well aware that many continue to employ any means necessary to have their ‘boozy’ day out. But, our staff are wise to their tricks and will continue to be ever vigilant during their patrols to further entrench the message that we will simply not tolerate drinking in our public spaces,” he adds.