Sunday liquor laws are woozy

Lihle Mtshali

Lihle Mtshali

A victory over the dry Sunday braai was won in November when laws forcing grocery chains to cage their wine racks were relaxed - but only in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Though the provinces have enacted their own provincial liquor legislations, the other five are still governed by the Liquor Act 27 of 1989, which prohibits retailers from selling alcohol on Sundays.

Grocers in these two provinces are allowed to sell wine with boerewors and charcoal to Sunday morning shoppers, but not beer.

Gauteng and the Eastern Cape's liberalised liquor laws are not identical, causing confusion for retail chains.

Eastern Cape retailers must close the doors of their liquor cabinets at three-thirty on Sunday afternoons, but Gautengers have until five in the afternoon to sell wine. In the Eastern Cape licence holders may, however, apply to have their trading hours extended.

The reasons for such strict laws?

"Among other things we want to ensure that we don't flood our communities with alcohol," said Kenneth Mapengo, chief director at the Liquor Licensing Office in Gauteng.

In Gauteng, only retailers that received their licences after 2003 may sell on a Sunday, but not all licence holders are complying.

"There are retailers who are licensed under the 1989 act who are selling on Sundays, which is against the law, but we are handling issues of compliance," said Mapengo.

Mapengo said the Gauteng Liquor Licensing Office was busy overhauling the liquor act as they intended to make applications for licences easier.