The Western Cape Liquor Act, aimed at reducing drinking spots in residential areas, will come into effect on April 1 next year, the province said on Friday.
Finance, economic development and tourism MEC Alan Winde told the Western Cape Liquor Conference in Cape Town the act was “a key weapon” against alcohol abuse.
“On the 1st of April 2012, the Liquor Authority will officially take over from the Liquor Board, and begin to implement the remaining sections of the act,” Winde said.
“All liquor licences will begin to be processed according to the new act, and enforcement against liquor traders and suppliers who flout its regulations will begin.”
The act, approved by the province’s cabinet last week, was viewed as “the toughest liquor legislation” in South Africa.
“It seeks to reduce drinking establishments in residential areas, clamp down on the supply of alcohol to illegal liquor outlets and restrict hours of liquor trade,” Winde said.
“This is to ensure that we create safer drinking environments.”
The implementation of the act would “greatly reduce” the opportunity for crime as well as the motivation for crime, Winde said.
The province would finalise the processes required to introduce the act and its regulations between “now and January”. In February and March, it would advertise for and appoint the board of the new Liquor Authority.
To ease the transition to the new Liquor Authority, the province would introduce a dedicated “liquor advice hotline”.
It had also ramped up the operations of the current Liquor Board by hiring additional inspectors and streamlining the review of applications. The Western Cape was “particularly hard hit” by drug-related crime in the past year.
These crimes in the province increased from 60 409 reported crimes in 2009/10 to 70,588 in 2010/11, according to the SA Police Service’s crime statistics released on Thursday.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased by 10.2 percent in the Western Cape. The province also had high instances of violent crime, 80 percent of which was fuelled by alcohol and drugs.
“It is estimated that half of violent deaths are alcohol-related,” Winde said.
In an Elsies River community centre poll, 47 percent of trauma cases were linked to alcohol use.
“Of these, the majority of suspected offenders were men between the ages of 18 and 35.”
Approximately one in three teenagers abused alcohol and drugs in the province