The Presidency has declined the request of the Gauteng Liquor Forum on behalf of its members to sell alcohol during the declared national state of disaster.
The President has further noted that the Gauteng Liquor Forum’s position is not shared by all industry stakeholders, and that a number of other organizations in the liquor industry have rejected the call for the restrictions to be lifted.
The Presidency has declined the request of the Gauteng Liquor Forum for its members to sell alcohol during the declared national state of disaster. The restriction on the sale of liquor will remain. https://t.co/hbAOpKJa8e
— Presidency | South Africa ?? (@PresidencyZA) April 17, 2020
Meanwhile, police in Gauteng have arrested a bottle store owner for allegedly violating lockdown regulations. This after a motorist was stopped at a roadblock with alcohol in his car. When police further questioned the driver he lead them to where he had bought the alcohol at an outlet in Orlando, Soweto. Police confiscated the alcohol.
In the video below, more details on the arrest of the bottle store owner:
Police have also made a number of arrests this week as people continue to sell cigarettes and alcohol against the lockdown regulations.
On Thursday, amendments were announced to the lockdown regulations. However, the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes remains.
INFOGRAPHIC: Amendments to regulations:
The lockdown is part of government’s efforts to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. It has been extended by two more weeks until the end of April.
This week the Metro Police arrested 10 people who were in possession of cigarettes with the street value of R1.5 million. The ban on the sale of cigarette and tobacco products was instituted at the start of the lockdown last month.
This gentleman, who spoke anonymously, says he’s struggling to cope without smoking. He says he had to come up with means. And currently, he’s resorted to illicit cigarettes.
“At the end of the day the urge to smoke is there, so what we see is what we get. It’s not like we really want to get those fake things or what. At this point in time, when the craving comes you just have to take what you see.”
The illicit trade in tobacco, especially cigarettes, costs South Africa’s economy billions of rand annually – through lost tax revenue. For example, in the 2015/16 financial year, the South African Revenue Service (SARS), estimated a loss of six billion rand through illegal cigarette trade.
Head of external affairs at British American Tobacco Johnny Moloto explains how this trade thrives.
“They sell their products very low, below the taxable price. That’s how they evade tax and that costs government billions.”
This week alone the Community Safety Department – along with police – made three separate arrests linked to illicit cigarettes. The biggest arrest was in Centurion where Tshwane Metro Police arrested 10 suspects for being in possession of cigarettes estimated at R1.5 million. They had been selling them from a flat.
National Police Spokesperson Vish Naidoo, however, says there’s no evidence that there’s been an increase in this trade.
“Although there are few reported incidents of people getting arrested, there is no substantial evidence that the selling of illicit cigarettes has increased during the lockdown.”
In other incidents, two suspects were arrested in Randburg for selling cigarettes, a further charge of bribery was added after they allegedly offered officers money. Two men were also arrested in the CBD for selling alcohol and cigarettes.