Cape Town – South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has rejected calls for the ban on alcohol sales during the Covid-19 lockdown to be lifted.
The party’s statement comes after numerous liquor stores across the country were ransacked by criminal elements ahead of the Easter long weekend.
A number of arrests have also been made of tavern owners and private individuals selling alcohol in contravention of the government’s lockdown regulations.
“It is a call not based on scientific rationale, as there is nothing essential about alcohol and it will only serve a destructive purpose at a time when we all need to practice maximum discipline and self-control,” the party said on Saturday.
The firebrand party said the link between alcohol and violent crime has been proven and is evident in the drop in the crime rate according to recently released statistics.
Resuming the sale of alcohol at this juncture would cause a spike in violent crime, the EFF said, and would lead to victims who are confined in close proximity to the alleged perpetrators being unable to access the assistance they need.
In the first week of the lockdown, the murder rate dropped to 94 from 326 during the same period the previous year, reported rapes were down to 101 from 699 for the same period and cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily hard decreased from 2 673 to 456.
The resultant strain on the healthcare system would have a catastrophic effect on already overworked medical staff and take away valuable resources needed to fight the coronavirus outbreak the party said.
It pointed out that the consumption of alcohol could also have a negative effect on the immune system, making people more vulnerable to the virus.
The party also highlighted the social aspect of alcohol use and said it feared that the consumption of alcohol would lead to people breaking lockdown regulations and hold “impromptu gatherings that would stretch our law enforcement agencies thin and overcrowd our already incapacitated prison system”. IOL