Domestic violence cases have dropped by 68.4% and rapes are down by 900 cases since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, according to Police Minister, Bheki Cele, but Cape Flats organisations fear that trend will reverse now the liquor ban has been lifted.
It came into effect on Monday June 1, after an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday May 24.
Liquor will be sold from Monday to Thursday, between 9am and 5pm at any place with a liquor licence. Liquor cannot be consumed at the place of sale.
Lifting the ban was premature, said Joy Lange, the executive director of the St Anne’s Homes and executive member of the National Shelter Movement of South Africa.
She said the sale of alcohol could undo all the good work the country and communities had done during the lockdown.
She felt the ban should have stayed in place until level 1 or until after the country’s Covid-19 infections had peaked.
She feared the R350 Covid-19 unemployment grant would now be used to buy liquor.
“This will increase the rate of domestic violence cases and the trauma cases in hospitals, which have reported fewer cases, especially over weekends. Our hospitals are already so full, how will handle more cases because of alcohol consumption?”
No matter what restrictions were placed on alcohol sales, people would find a way to break them, she said. Alcohol led to social gatherings, making the spread of the virus more likely.
“How will they now trace all the individuals that need to be tested and contain the virus and how will police be able to manage who is selling liquor and who is not?
“This places more responsibility on SAPS who are already under-resourced. I fear that we will start losing lives again.”
Ms Lange said women who came to a shelter had already exhausted all other options.
Manenberg Safety Forum chairwoman Roegchanda Pascoe said she was devastated by the news and could not understand why the president had made the decision.
Alcohol had been prioritised over food security, and the president’s decision would have dire consequences, she said.
“Regulations won’t help. Like people stockpiled food so will they do with alcohol. There are already limited shelters for women and children and for drug abusers.
“Now that liquor is going to be sold, how will they manage the repercussions?”
Report domestic violence to the GBV Command Centre at 0800 428 428 or call Childline toll free at 0800 055 555.