South Africans warned about the dangers of binge drinking

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South Africans have been urged not to overindulge in alcohol during the festive season as irresponsible drinking patterns could lead to increased road fatalities, domestic abuse and serious contact crimes.

The country was ranked the sixth biggest drinking nation by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to the WHO’s 2018 global status report on alcohol and health, South Africans are considered not to be responsible users of alcohol. They rather take to binge drinking.

Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, who’s also acting as Premier of the province, has expressed disgust at the high rate South Africans consume alcohol.

Lesufi has also been extremely vocal in the fight against alcohol abuse on social media. Lesufi’s hashtag #AlcoholFreeSA at one stage also trended at Number one on Twitter.

Lesufi says alcohol abuse is destroying our country.

“The level of abuse is completely unacceptable. It is influencing children, it’s killing our skills and it’s also affecting the future of our country. You can’t have a country where its human capital does not develop because people believe that they must drink every weekend and they drink recklessly and irresponsibly as well.”

Lesufi says stricter legislation needs to be put in place to properly regulate the alcohol industry. He also says that law enforcement agencies need to take a harsher approach to illegal liquor outlets and shebeens.

“There are two things that can assist us: one is strong legislation, and two is law enforcement. We have strong legislation that disallows liquor licenses to be distributed freely. We also have law enforcement agencies that can clamp down on illegal taverns, shebeens and shops as well as arresting those who drink alcohol publicly.”

“We believe that we can win this battle but and we really need to support the call of an alcohol-free South Africa, because if we don’t do that, I can tell you, we are going to be a country that’s going to waste.”

The Gauteng Department of Community Safety has urged the public not to over-indulge if they don’t want to be in trouble with the law.

“From a safety perspective, we also want to dissuade our people from excessive drinking particularly when they go to places of entertainment because this is where we tend to experience incidents of fighting – with some of them resulting in murder cases as well as assault resulting in grievous bodily harm cases.”

“As the department, we have always raised the concern about incidents of gender-based violence and it is around this time, due to excessive drinking, that we tend to experience that people committing these types of crimes. We want our people to be safe, the festive season is still far from over and we don’t want to experience more incidents on our roads, sexual assaults and incidents where people are fighting.”

Health professionals have also warned about the serious health implications of binge drinking. Dr Nelisiwe Sibisi says excessive alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect on the body.

“Binge drinking is quite problematic as it introduces your body to high levels of alcohol very quickly and once that happens, it generally overwhelms the body. It is not able to process the amount of alcohol that comes into the system affects the central nervous system, it also affects your sense of judgement, your ability to take care of yourself, your ability to perceive danger and those are the huge problems.”

Alcohol can also affect your mental health and emotional well-being.