SA's R300bn booze burden

SA's R300bn booze burden

2015-02-01 17:07

Johannesburg - South Africans have a huge drinking problem. We are the biggest boozers in Africa.

As consumers of more than 5 billion litres of alcohol every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks us at number four on a list of countries with the riskiest drinking patterns.

This classifies us as heavy drinkers who binge on a minimum of five beers or glasses of wine in a single sitting for men and more than three drinks for women.

The heaviest drinkers – prone to alcohol poisoning and the deterioration of vital organs – are the citizens of Kazakhstan, followed by Mexico and Russia.

The reality, though, is South Africa’s drinking problem is killing the nation and has an adverse effect on the economy.

The latest research from the Medical Research Council (MRC), which has been published in the SA Medical Journal, indicated South Africa lost about R300bn in 2009 as a result of alcohol abuse.

About R38bn of that was used to deal with the socials ills associated with the harmful use of alcohol.

These included deaths, illnesses, disabilities, unintentional injuries that included road traffic accidents, as well as crime.

“The effects of harmful use of alcohol in South Africa are very bad and are crippling the economy,” said Dr Richard Matzopoulos, the lead researcher behind the MRC’s recent report, who believed these figures are an underestimation and the problem was getting worse.

If nothing was done, he said, “it will continue to have a harmful effect and further entrench inequality and marginalisation of communities affected by alcohol”.

Matzopoulos attributed this to the alcohol industry prioritising profits derived from irresponsible drinking at the expense of the nation.

But Dr Osborn Mahanjana, chief executive of the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use did not agree.

Although he acknowledged South Africa had a drinking problem, he said: “It’s not everybody who drinks alcohol who abuses it. Like any other thing, when you overindulge in alcohol it will be bad for you.

“That is why, as the industry, we continually promote responsible drinking and certainly do not put profit before people,” he added.

Mahanjana referred to the latest WHO statistics, which suggested that the responsible drinking message was indeed reaching some consumers.

The figures suggested 40% of South Africans drank alcohol but only 10% abused it.

South African women topped the list of heavy-drinking females in Africa. The WHO reported that 41.2% of local women were binge drinkers, followed by Burkina Faso (36.8%), Mozambique (32.8%), Nigeria (32.9%) and Zimbabwe (20.3%).

For the full story, including personal accounts in "At the bottom of every bottle", visit City Press.

  • Kay Gee Mengo - 2015-02-01 17:17

    I blame it on the klippies and cola...

      Craig Jenny Mackenzie - 2015-02-01 17:21

      Stop passing rasist comments

      Jaapie Bopape - 2015-02-01 17:22

      Take me to your liver!

      Kay Gee Mengo - 2015-02-01 17:31

      Craig where's racism in that comment??? Talk about inferior complex.

      George Anderson - 2015-02-01 17:53

      We know and we admit it, Now tell us what YOU did with the R700BIL that you stole

      George Anderson - 2015-02-01 17:56

      @ Kay Gee Mengo We all got that when we compare to zoomers complex at nkandla

      Sebastiaan Matla - 2015-02-01 18:10

      Drinking brandy doesn't solve any problems, but neither does drinking milk.

      Jaapie Bopape - 2015-02-01 18:19

      Seb you are the man!

      Scala Coetzee - 2015-02-01 18:51

      Government SA you must be drunk to be understood zamalak

      Colin Kearns - 2015-02-01 19:15

      Kay you have got it wrong! It was Jan van Riebeck's fault,he established the first vineyard in the Cape..the rest is history! Lol...

      Zulu Mkhize - 2015-02-01 22:02

      Anyone for a Bells?

      Dawid Venter - 2015-02-02 07:11

      I am not happy with fourth place we need to do something people!

      R. Retshe Mahuma - 2015-02-02 20:23

      agreed David, our aim should always be no. 1

  • Capital Ist - 2015-02-01 17:18

    Just lit the braai and time for a nice bottle if wine!

      Kulu Zulu - 2015-02-01 18:36

      Give that man a Bells ! Ahh, a Chateau Le Berrrrtas, Kannonkop ?

      Truth24 - 2015-02-01 19:02

      You cannot have a braai without a beer. I blame (thank) the braai ;)

  • Gareth Ellis - 2015-02-01 17:20

    Number 4 ?? Come on people we can do better than that

      Juandre du Plessis - 2015-02-01 17:54


      George Anderson - 2015-02-01 17:57

      We are only warming up and getting started. Wait till we on a roll, bet we could beat that anyday. You all up for it.

      Juandre du Plessis - 2015-02-01 18:14

      At least we are better in drinking than football. Go banana banana ---sorry Bafana Bafana

      Andrew Terr - 2015-02-01 20:40

      @Gareth,i take full responsibility.Ever since i gave up drinking nine bars have gone broke.SAB went on short time.

  • Ian Trenor - 2015-02-01 17:20

    Yep this is how most people cope with all the BS South Africa now has to offer. Thank you cANCer.

  • WitWolf Digter - 2015-02-01 17:29

    That's it. I quit..... The devils piss will get you no where....

  • Jenny Peter Gilbert - 2015-02-01 17:33

    Last Sunday we had a great day at the Proteas/Windies ODI: BUT the amount of beer consumed by spectators at St George's was frightening. We had to step over drunk women and weave our way through a mob of drunk spectators to get out of the stadium. These people then got into vehicles of various description to drive home! The same happens on the beachfront every weekend where life guards have to fish drunks out of the sea! It's very difficult to go out anywhere these days without coming across this type of behaviour because people are unable to drink responsibly and know when to stop.

      Anthoula Joshua - 2015-02-01 17:46

      That is why the responsible drinkers rather drink at home. I have maybe 2 glasses of wine. Why can my husband go to cricket or play golf without alcohol? Maybe a beer or 2 max for the day. Nothing a gross as a drunk woman in public.

      George Anderson - 2015-02-01 18:00

      They were responsible, they lay down an did nothing. No dramer

      Truth24 - 2015-02-01 19:03

      Yea. Have to admit. I enjoy a good party as much as the next guy, but drink responsibly!

  • Sechaba Virgil Ndlovu - 2015-02-01 17:34

    Zuma and his buddies are driving me to the nearest bottle store

      Nozipho Mazibuko - 2015-02-01 19:13

      Then all your problems must be solved as we speak.

      Peter Woods - 2015-02-02 12:45

      Lets do an investigation on alcoholism in government...

  • Trevor Mashilo - 2015-02-01 17:37

    we are number 1 on Crime and Boozing

      Juandre du Plessis - 2015-02-01 17:55

      Great achievement.

      Pieter Pretorius - 2015-02-02 08:05

      Now that's a good story to tell.

  • Emile van Rooyen - 2015-02-01 17:40

    It started with that Jan van Riebeeck guy and Apartheid.......eish.

  • Tina Butler - 2015-02-01 17:46

    Every action has a cause. Don't look further than than our current government to find the cause.

  • Rolene Nel - 2015-02-01 17:57

    If we work harder we can be no 1.

  • MarkH - 2015-02-01 17:59

    The Govt loses R700-billion, we drink R300-billion. At least I paid for mine.

  • Travis Palm - 2015-02-01 18:00

    Ban alcohol, legalise weed, ship all the alcoholics who have a problem with this plan off to kazakstan

      Truth24 - 2015-02-01 19:11

      And then we can ship you to 'small mind' island.

  • Sybrand Van Der Spuy - 2015-02-01 18:02

    Exactly the same "problem" as with AIDS - if you actually keep statistics it really is going to look bad for us against those that don't - read most of the rest of our beautiful yet dark Continent.....

  • Clinton Van Deventer - 2015-02-01 18:04

    Ban advertising for starters, it help bring down smoking.

      Anthoula Joshua - 2015-02-01 18:07

      I do smoke more when I have a glass of wine. So you have a point.

      Truth24 - 2015-02-01 19:11

      Price brought down the number of smokers.

  • Anthoula Joshua - 2015-02-01 18:05

    All the time they focused on tobacco when the evidence of alcohol abuse problems in SA was so clear. The rate of car accidents, crime, domestic violence, child neglect and abuse. Foetal alcohol syndrome stats. We have had a problem with alcohol for a very long time. Nothing new. We cannot blame this one on apartheid or Zuma and the ANC. Only on yourself. People must take accountability.

      Michael Breukel - 2015-02-01 18:15

      Well said Anthoula. Drugs fall in that same catagory.

      Anthoula Joshua - 2015-02-01 18:20

      Yes drugs too.

      Anthoula Joshua - 2015-02-01 18:22

      Why do we have a drug problem. It does not get advertised nor is it legal. ???????

      Clinton Van Deventer - 2015-02-01 20:01

      The movies show the open use of drugs...smoking weed and cocaine use. People see it and take it as normal day to day habits. Alcohol has claimed more lives and families than smoking ever did....

      Nikki Downes - 2015-02-01 20:05

      Brilliantly said Anthoula Alcoholism is a terrible scourge in so many families. I am not against responsible drinking but I have seen so many families shattered when it's abused

      Donald Ceronio - 2015-02-02 08:30

      There is a huge medical market for alcohol abuse. They will loose money if the people stop drinking.

  • David Sharpley - 2015-02-01 18:05

    R300bn.... I will drink to that ;)

      Neels Minnaar - 2015-02-01 18:41

      Cheers to that, I'll rather spend my money on booze before some thug (politician) can lay his hands on it to finance another nkandla

  • Jacobus Alwyn Viljoen - 2015-02-01 18:09

    Would rather drink myself to death than had me killed by a thug

  • Michael Breukel - 2015-02-01 18:10

    Alcohol abuse is much worse than smoking. This comes from a ex smoker. What must be added to alcohol abuse is drug abuse and addiction.

  • Zack Evans - 2015-02-01 18:11

    Man thats a hangover of note!

  • Graham Grant Hayward - 2015-02-01 18:15

    So are they going to tax us more on this now.Is this another ploy ?

  • William Hallett - 2015-02-01 18:15

    YES, we might drink too much!!...but we drink inexess because our wonderful country is going down the drain day after day just like the liquor we drink, All because 'ZUMA' is destroying our Great country and our nation....

  • Peter Webb - 2015-02-01 18:17

    If alcohol is banned, what will our government do without their Johnny blue.

  • jane.dawson.165 - 2015-02-01 18:18

    William, you're U cannot use the sate of the country to justify your drinking problem. We all have choices, and South Africans have been drinking in excess for many years..before the advent of the present dispensation. The affects of alcoholism on the person concerned,on their friends and families, is immeasurable

  • Eddie Van Meyeren - 2015-02-01 18:18

    Realy.... and the billions lost to corruption isn't a problem? People drink to try and drown sorrows. B..s..... reports like this understates the real problems we are facing and tries to disguise the real problem mamely inept governance!

  • Sylvia Thomas - 2015-02-01 18:25

    So William as SA slips down the drain, the drunks will slip in too! We need to learn : Too much of anything is bad....moderation!

  • Kagiso Tshweu - 2015-02-01 18:26

    don't smoke but I do drink however I don't understand the rationale of making alcohol legal nd dagga illegal. However solutions to this phenomenon impose strict laws, regulate advertising if you can't afford to ban it. But first before we implement policies nd everything we must first thoroughly study factors that contribute to high alcohol consumption

  • AndyOG - 2015-02-01 18:27

    Balls. We have a people problem.

  • Patrick Hasani - 2015-02-01 18:33


  • Athrah Fortuin - 2015-02-01 18:34

    Zuma certainly cant take the blame for everything. Change start with you. The blame game will change and I am yet to see a racist remark on this forum

  • Lidija Subotic - 2015-02-01 18:34

    And then news are full of accidents where people lost lifes thanks to drunk driver... I am not even going in to the story about families ruined by alcohol

  • Lynda Tyrer - 2015-02-01 18:37

    Blame the useless government if there were jobs they wouldnt sit and drink all day. Though one wonders were the money is coming from to pay for the vice.

  • Lekker Befock - 2015-02-01 18:40

    It is impossible to stay sober when you are bombarded with ANC bull on a daily basis!

  • john.denmarku - 2015-02-01 18:41

    Wow, very bad and scary statistics. Then again, no cultured country would consume so much alcohol, unless they have a failing ANC and incompetent JZ as President.

      Pule Mogale - 2015-02-01 18:44

      Yes. The ANC and Zuma are also failing Karzakstan, Mexico and Russia.

      Warren1 - 2015-02-02 20:58

      Good one John. if only there was money to be made for every irrelevant anc comment on this site. wow

  • Lwandile Mpumza - 2015-02-01 18:42

    There is nothing wrong in consuming alcohol, you just have to know your limitation.

  • Tuelo Pharasi - 2015-02-01 18:43


  • Patty Gaby - 2015-02-01 18:45


      Miki Nas'Jay - 2015-02-01 19:01

      Well said Patty. The comments here show the South African syndrome where we blame everyone else but ourselves for our problems.

      Sipho Simon Mogale - 2015-02-01 19:25

      God Bless Patty you one of kind

  • Majaji - 2015-02-01 18:48

    No wonder crime is always at a rise, how do people finance this expensive lifestyle. I am so poor, I can bearly afford to pay for my food. I just do not have cash for alcohol? How do you finance your drinking?

  • Malose Nyatlo - 2015-02-01 18:50

    A friend once suggested a solution way back in the eighties, months after we both stopped drinking: the government should look into legislating very low alcohol content in popular categories of drinks and tax spirits and whiskies heavily. I have agonised about it over the years but still came to the same solution, but now everybody loves his drink and the day the ANC want to go out of government is the day they tempered with the status quo. They successfully reduced cigarette smoking to the dustbins, can they do the same with alcohol?

  • john.denmarku - 2015-02-01 18:56

    This explains a lot as to why JZ and his incompetence and his thieving new ANC won the last elections. Going forward, breathalyzer tests should be compulsory before voting in SA.

  • Benoit Le Roy - 2015-02-01 19:01

    SA is the only country that can afford it.

  • Sipho Ndwe - 2015-02-01 19:01

    The only thing that can solve this problem is to go back to God,the Author and the Finisher of our faith,as long as we ignore Him things are still gonna go worse.

  • Calvin Bruce Combrink - 2015-02-01 19:02

    ok, lets nail the smokers again, easier targets after all.

  • Bradley Duncan - 2015-02-01 19:03

    With a government like ours who can blame us for drinking!

      Sipho Simon Mogale - 2015-02-01 19:22

      We need God not ANC or DA

  • Etienne Holder - 2015-02-01 19:05

    There's an opportuinity in this, I'm opening a bottle store......

  • Masala Muthambi - 2015-02-01 19:09

    Am part of this

  • Masala Muthambi - 2015-02-01 19:10

    An 1 3rd

  • Irfaan Hilberg - 2015-02-01 19:13

    Man smoking cigarretes beats up wife and causes huge accident on N2

  • Sipho Simon Mogale - 2015-02-01 19:13

    If you consume something and that thing become addictive to you then is no good 1 corin 6:12 that's what alcohol does I prefer sober minded 1peter 5:8

  • Buck Stopper - 2015-02-01 19:14

    This is why traders from Somalia and the Sub-continent outperform our locals, they are not pissing up their profits every weekend and looking to make weak excuses that blame everyone except themselves every Monday.

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