War brews over alcohol in shops

2010-07-27 10:13

Cape Town - Conflicting opinions about the definition of table wine in the Western Cape is leading to a confrontation between the provincial government and certain grocery retailers.

Although the 1989 Liquor Act is still in force in the Western Cape, certain sections of the Western Cape Liquor Act have already been promulgated. Section 1 of the Western Cape act was recently implemented to give police the power to act against those transgressing certain other sections of the new act that previously became operational.

These include punishments for intoxication in public places and the selling of liquor to inebriates on licensed premises.

Both acts stipulate that grocers may sell table wine only.

In terms of the 1989 act, table wine has an alcohol content of not more than 14%.

After Section 1 of the Western Cape act recently came into force, certain large chain stores started to sell fortified wine as well. According to legal opinion they obtained, the definition of table wine has now changed to that of wine as contained in the Liquor Products Act, which includes fortified wine like port and sherry, as well as natural wine with an alcohol content of up to 16.5%.

According to Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde, he has started receiving complaints from the public about chain stores selling stronger liquor.

He is determined to tackle any contravention together with the police, and to remove liquor being sold illegally from the shelves.

Winde said he is disappointed with the irresponsible behaviour of certain large chain stores, which violates the province's liquor laws.

Grocery stores must not take chances for the sake of bigger profits, but remain within the provisions of the old act and not sell wine with an alcohol content exceeding 14%.

When the Western Cape Liquor Act comes into full effect, probably later this year, Winde said it will contain the same definitions as those in the 1989 act with regard to grocers’ liquor licences.

Danie Cronjé, director of liquor law services at legal firm Cluver Markotter, said however that Section 1 of the Western Cape Liquor Act has led to a dispute of legal interpretation because the definition of table wine in the 1989 act has not been expressly retracted.

If the minister should say the definition of table wine will remain unchanged, the Western Cape Liquor Act will have to be amended with public consultation before it can be enforced in its entirety, reckons Cronjé.


  • Dassie - 2010-07-27 10:59

    People like to complain. What is the difference whether I am buying my OBS from Checkers or P&P or from Checkers Liquor or P&P liquor next to the main shop?

  • stuart - 2010-07-27 11:06

    alchohol is a drug treat it as such stuart

  • PETERE - 2010-07-27 11:10

    I don't believe in regulation of markets, let Supermarkets sell all alcoholic drinks, spirits, beers everything the same as overseas. They will probably undercut small stores on price, although they might fight shy of big fridges for bulky drinks like beers because of costs. As for the small guy? I will still use him for convenience despite higher prices, they same as I do for many other small grocery items when the cost of the petrol (and toll fees) make it uneconomic to drive to a big store. Give me the choice....stop deciding my choices for me!

  • free will - 2010-07-27 11:11

    Im sorry but I get more and more irritated at how the government is trying to control peoples free will and convenience. I mean its annoying if one cant buy alcohol on sunday... and now they are trying to monitor shops that are just trying to improve ones convenience. Quit the control,

  • Zulu boy - 2010-07-27 11:17

    I wonder which public complained about the alcohol level going up from 14 to 16.5%, i suspect some liquor stores who feel the likes of PNP are taking business away from them.When a new law or a definition in the new law defines something previously defined,doesn't the new law automatically suspersede the old one?

  • Michael - 2010-07-27 11:23

    It is obscene that a supermarket should even consider selling a bottle of port. I cannot imagine a greater evil in our society than supermarkets being allowed to sell port, except possibly selling port on Sunday!

  • Peter - 2010-07-27 11:40

    Many of our top wines contain in excess of 14% alcohol.Often a "full bodied" red will be as high as 14,6%. A simple trawl through Platters will show this all too clearly. As these wines are expensive and clearly are table wines the law has until now ,turned a blind eye. Perhaps Alan Winde needs to speak to the industry and understand his subject before passing unqualified judgement. The proposed 16.5% makes far more sense and should be allowed as the benchmark until the new legislation is in place.

  • ockert - 2010-07-27 11:41

    Bring in a total Ban of all alcohol sales in South Africa.

  • ockert - 2010-07-27 11:46

    Start labeling all alchol bottles that they do damage to families - all sales to be stopped in say a year or two so that the alcoholics can ween themselves of the bad habit, by joining AA or going to rehab centres to properly adjust to a normal life.

  • boeta - 2010-07-27 11:55

    You guys all sound drunk, dassie you are one to complain, free will you are an irritant, they should ban dop totally so i can loose my beer belly, so i dont loose my job at jag centurion

  • Rebel - 2010-07-27 11:57

    Aren't there some real criminals that the cops could better use their time chasing, rather than standing around supermarkets checking the alcohol percentages on bottles? The provinces in the north of SA changed their liquor laws and sell on Sundays and they haven't fallen to pieces. Why is the Cape so slow to move with the times. Maybe the lawmakers are the 'dominees' whose congregations are dwindling!

  • Johan - 2010-07-27 11:59

    Ya Ya all the red-tape, just rig yourself a lekka smokkelhuis and everything is legal. Whats new.

  • TheGrem - 2010-07-27 11:59

    @Stuart, I aam a recovering alcoholic. Should we ban alcohol being sold in Supermarkets bcos approximately 10% of the population are addicts ( of which 50% aare alcoholics). Get Real. I don't see why the remaining 90% should be punished bcos of people like me, oh, and the bloody do-gooders who think they will be saving us from evil.

  • tori - 2010-07-27 12:01

    Despite all these laws having been in place for years, there's still a huge alcohol problem in the Western Cape. Perhaps the authorities should be looking at the CAUSE of this and not the substance. I am fortunate to not have an addiction to alcohol but I do resent being restricted in when and where I can buy it. Alcohol will always be available, legally or illegally - limiting its legal availability will do nothing to decrease alcoholism.

  • Wolf - 2010-07-27 12:10

    In the U.S. and the UK, all forms of alcohol can be found at your neighborhood grocery store (... Since the limit is 14% alcohol, why not include ciders and beers to what retailers may sell?

  • TheGrem - 2010-07-27 12:12

    @Ockert, R U an Alcoholic by any chance. I 'weened' myself off alcohol and am not disturbed by booze being sold anywhere. Why not stupoid comments from people who think they can control the rest of the world. Oh, that might include me too, hey?

  • SomeBloke - 2010-07-27 12:13

    No one has ever explained to me why we can't buy alcohol on a Sunday? Is this a hangover from the conservative Apartheid days or what? Anybody?

  • dirtydix - 2010-07-27 12:16

    South Africa, its time to catch a wake-up, your liqour laws are archaic, ridiculous and outdated. If alcoholics need a drink they will sure as hell get their drink wherever. For the rest of us, please sell any liquor at a supermarket just as is done elsewhere and worldwide. This allows fairer competition and gives us the convenience.

  • clint - prochoice - 2010-07-27 12:17

    I have a major issue with governments and others trying to dictate how and when I must purchase things. I am not religious and therefore do not know why my rights to buy wine, beer or any other spirit should be impeded due some old fashioned beliefs about invisible men in the sky. I have a wine cellar so rarely run out but the right to choose is nevertheless compromised. I would also suggest legalising and taxing all drugs. This would ensure a geerous revenue stream and a way to monitor who takes what. I would imagine it's easier to get a gram of coke on a Sunday than it is to buy a bottle of wine and there is no age restriction either. I don't do drugs, dont advocate them but in the same way as everything else, I believe 100 percent in the individuals' right to choose. The more the government becomes a nanny state, the more the people act like children and do not take responsibility for their actions. Because society has peadophiles should we also ban children? Of course not.

  • Toby Stapleton-Cotto - 2010-07-27 12:22

    I recon we need to go back to the days where loiquor came from a bottle store and when EVERYTHING closed at 1pm on a Saturday and NOTHING was oprn on a Sunday.

  • Robert Kay - 2010-07-27 13:14

    Toby - I couldn't agree with you more. If people can't plan before hand what they require over a weekend then they must just go without, as it used to be.

  • realist - 2010-07-27 13:14

    Ai jinne tog,the shebeens are laughing all the way the more pressure they put on outlets such as Supermarkets and Kie to sell only certain types of alcohol or put a time to it.I am not in the Supermarket or retail bussness,But i agree with Dirty Dix and Somebloke.The question of alcolism carries no ground,cause a alcoholic if they want to they will find alcohol,only at a much higher price.Look at Namibie,what a pleasure to travel there and buy your wine,beer or whatever any time of the day in any shop.Ag nee wat South Africa law makers come right man!!!!!!!!

  • Marc @Toby Stapleton - 2010-07-27 13:17

    Toby my man, I've gotta agree with you. Those were simpler times. Besides, the Sunday opening times are hurting small bottle stores like the one I used to own. They don't make enough profit to justify being open, but if they close they lose those customers. In the old days people who wanted booze on Sunday would just buy on Sarturday. Nowadays, what used to be Saturday's income is spread over the whole weekend. So that means more staff costs and less profit for bottle stores.

  • NON-drinker - 2010-07-27 13:22

    Looks to me like the DA is trying to take us back to the dark days!

  • Nick Nack - 2010-07-27 13:22

    Dear Pro Choice, Has it ever occurred to you that the poor children out there who have parents that abuse them will be relieved if they can't buy more wine after 5pm. Have you thought of the lives the laws have saved as many people who have drinking problems would not plan to take that first drink and then would go out and buy another bottle after the first one is finished.

  • Sassy SA - 2010-07-27 13:24

    Alcohol is supposed to be sold to Adults.... and as adults when and what we purchases is our own business not the governments... and in this day and age convenience and service dictates where we purchase our goods .... P&P and Checkers are just creating a supply where there is a demand .... Capitalism folks...

  • NON-drinker - 2010-07-27 13:31

    Looks to me like Helen & Co is trying to take us back to the dark days!

  • wp - 2010-07-27 13:47

    Tori. We in the Western Cape do not have a problem with alcohol. In fact we get along just great! ?

  • graeme - 2010-07-27 13:47

    i hear the argument most people are making as whats the diff if you get alcohol at chks or pnp, ill tell you what the difference is, chks and pnp do nothing but screw the manufacturer with listing fees and rebates,i say keep the small bottle stores going, in a country that is trying to create jobs, the last thing we need is 100's of thousands of bottle stores closing down, and retrenching thousands of people. sometimes regulation is not all bad.

  • chris - 2010-07-27 13:49

    @stuart: coffee is also a drug. how should it then be treated? sold only by chemists?

  • John - 2010-07-27 13:50

    Look what happened to society when they legalised MOVIES on a SUNDAY!?!?!?!?! Imagine what will happen when they sell WINE on a sunday!....and about all those bloody prostitutes and homosexuals....(hahahah) To all those idiot do-gooders out there - if someone wants a dop they will get it - and certainly NOT from pick n Pay. Alcoholics tend to go for the stronger stuff. The people at whom this law is actually intended, dont drink table wine from Pick n pay, and could certainly NOT afford Port from them either!

  • Nic @ SomeBlock - 2010-07-27 13:55

    You're a legend! Ha ha :-]

  • John the Saint 2nd - 2010-07-27 14:01

    Why can't I buy alcohol on Sundays? Where in the holy bible do God say "Thou sall not buy alcohol on Sundays"? Didn't Jesus turned water into wine? Surely that is a sign that alcohol is not as bad as everybody make it to be.

  • MarkH - 2010-07-27 14:04

    Basic problem here is one of conglomerates and monopolies forcing out the small guy because they can. If SA is going to become competitive again the little guys must be given a chance to trade and expand and not be forced to the wall every time a law is changed. Ain't SA ever going to learn to put a lid on what the big guys can do and thus enable entrepreneurs to survive? We see it all the time in the banking sector, the food sector and others where they transgress, pay the fine and continue. Sick syndrome and it's costing us big time.

  • Viking5 - 2010-07-27 14:17

    Archaic, calvanistic, apartheid leftovers.

  • Ofentse - 2010-07-27 14:35

    The DA is taking CPT back to stone ages, Alcohol is sold in Gauteng on Sundays and all sorts of wine are sold at Checkers and PnP, why cant they just get on with the programme.

  • Liquor trader - 2010-07-27 14:45

    People want stricter rules for smoking but no rules for drinking alcohol. Maybe it’s better to drink and drive to shoot/stab somebody or assault your wife in front of children under the influence. Alcohol abuse is the biggest causes of these problems and takes up a lot of time from the police. Let them rather arrest smokers as they are a bigger problem to society then a drinker

  • Peter - 2010-07-27 15:04

    The DA should be rewriting legislation not going out of its way to enforce old Apartheid laws. Shame on them. Where did Helen Zille find this Ill Wind?

  • Freddy - 2010-07-27 16:02

    It seems that there is a struggle to get rid of the draconian laws. It's like a severe blockage in a sewage pipe.

  • stack @ ockert - 2010-07-27 16:17

    ARE YOU DRUNK RIGHT NOW? makes no difference when or where its sold - Gautengers have been able to buy liquor on a sunday for years and sometimes its just convenient !

  • nuclear - 2010-07-27 16:56

    As the leading opposition party in SA, surely the DA should consider spending more time on real issues that affect their support base.

  • Johnny - 2010-07-28 09:23

    Get over your petty laws DA, legalize sale of alcohol on all days and do some real work.

  • White rat - 2010-07-28 11:56

    @viking5 whats your claim to fame ! corruption,crime,.......

  • Thinker - 2010-07-28 14:36

    Many people might develop a "drink problem" in future, not because of alcohol availability, but because of alcohol advertising. Cigarette adverts are totally forbiden, but how many families had been destroyed by tobacco, compared to alcohol? During a single rugby match on TV I have counted up to 7 alcohol adverts. From anywhere, towards the biggest airport, bilboards many meters high advertises the virtues of alcohol. No-where in the country it is allowed to smoke indoors, but drinking indoors and ruining families is apparently less undesirable than a little passive smoking... Forget about alcohol availability, address alcohol adverts and ban it totally.

  • boeta - 2010-07-29 08:45

    Ockert you sound like you a drinker, leave the bottle so you can type with both hands or get a hands free you loser, I usually work on the cars at Jag centurion when im drunk, but no one knows cos everyone else is also drunk haha

  • Healthcoach - 2011-01-10 13:08

    Hello, Thank you for your nice article. I found something special on it. Thanks

  • SKAAP - 2011-01-28 18:54

    u see, in small towns like vredendal not in city, the farm workers drink alot of wine. The smokkellaars complain to DA, the DA make a law to suite the smokkelaar. As nice as that. With the stores closing at 6pm no one coming from work will no get drinks from store and will have to support the smugglers and pay more for their drink. DA - MAKING THE POOR POORER. Nice job. Confirms that no1 know what they are doing in the goverment!!

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