The public is warned to not illegally purchase alcohol, as one of the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association’s (SALBA) production facilities was recently broken into and thousands of bottle caps were stolen.

“One of SALBA’s member-companies reported an armed robbery at the company’s production facility in Durban on 30 December [two days into the current alcohol sales ban] where thousands of bottle closures (caps) were stolen,” SALBA Chairman Sibani Mngadi said in a statement on Monday [January 4].

“One of the illicit alcohol practices is to refill used, branded bottles with illegal alcohol, reseal them and sell that to consumers. This practice poses a major health risk to consumers.”

SALBA urges law enforcement agencies to be rigorous in dealing with illegal alcohol sales and the production of counterfeit products.

Total prohibition of all formal sales poses the risk of growing the network of alcohol smugglers who respond to the current environment of unmet consumer demand for alcoholic beverages.

These illegal activities include concealed, illegal movement of products, as well as industrial-scale production of counterfeit alcohol.

“According to the study by Euromonitor, the alcohol industry loses R12.9 billion in gross revenue per year to illicit trade, which converts to a loss of R6.4-billion in alcohol tax contribution to the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 24% of the alcohol market in South Africa is illicit,” said SALBA.

“The legal alcohol sector contributes R72-billion to the Government’s fiscus by way of taxation, VAT and excise and in 2019, the alcohol sector contributed 3.4% (R173 billion) of South Africa’s nominal GDP.”

Mngadi added that a large number of South Africans are observing the current regulations that are in place for 14 days to curb the rise in infections, hospital admissions and mortality.

“Our observation is that many South Africans stayed at home during this period in line with the extended curfew of 9pm to 6am, leading to the reduction in the potential injuries arising from interpersonal and group interaction at night, movement of traffic and other risk factors for trauma.

“We urge the public to travel safely as a large number of people return from holidays and continue to observe lockdown regulations, particularly the mandatory wearing of face masks when in public places. This is critical to our country’s effort to flatten the curve of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mngadi.

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