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Ramaphosa urges action to curb teen drinking after tavern tragedy

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to do more to combat under-age drinking in the wake of the Enyobeni tavern tragedy in which 21 teenagers died, reports MedicalBrief.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said the increased social acceptability of young people drinking has become a serious problem in a country where most of the drinking population is classified by the World Health Organisation as binge drinkers.

“As families it means having open and frank conversations about alcohol and setting boundaries,” he wrote, urging adults to not send children to buy alcohol for them or capitulate to requests to buy alcohol for young people.

He said it was not the first time SA had been confronted with tragic events like that at the Enyobeni tavern in Scenery Park, East London.

A common denominator between the Enyobeni case, the Throb nightclub disaster in Durban in 2000 and the Osi’s Tavern tragedy in Khayelitsha in 2015 is that all three establishments were selling alcohol to minors.

The proliferation of venues openly flouting the law points to failings on the authorities’ part to enforce regulations, he added.

Under the National Liquor Act, owners of establishments with liquor licences may not sell alcohol to anyone under 18.

“Communities must work with authorities to ensure taverns, shebeens, entertainment venues and outlets face consequences for breaking the law.

“Our police must step up the enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales close to schools and the monitoring of outlets to ensure alcohol is not being sold to minors.”

A reality was that alcohol was a form of escapism for young people in communities where safe, age-appropriate recreation was scarce, he said. The Scenery Park community has pointed to the lack of sports, learning and developmental facilities for young people, leading them to resort to “tavern hopping”, said the President.

The three spheres of government needed to respond to the pleas of communities to develop more recreational spaces, facilities, programmes and projects for young people in the province’s disadvantaged areas.


President’s newsletter (Open access)

See more from MedicalBrief archives:


‘Highly unlikely’ that teenagers died from tavern generator fumes – Health Department


Binge drinking or smoking stiffens arteries in teenagers


Talking about drug use with your adolescent




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