. with beer, say thirsty tipplers in the townships

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

Tipplers in most townships around the country face a thirsty weekend because of the acute shortage of beer.

Taverns and shebeens around the country are dry and patrons are not impressed. Many drinking places that Sowetan visited yesterday were empty while others were closed.

The South African Breweries' Chamdor branch near Kagiso, which supplies most of the West Rand with beer, has had beer delivery problems for the past month. This has started affecting liquor businesses in Mohlakeng, Kagiso itself, Toekomsrus and Dobsonville.

Liquor store managers in the affected areas told Sowetan that the beer shortage might force them to retrench workers as there was no money to pay them.

They said the scarcity of the waters of immortality started three weeks ago, and they were gradually losing customers.

Scores of patrons were turned away when Sowetan visited the businesses yesterday.

"We only realised that that there were problems when the breweries failed to deliver our orders," said Happy Singeni a manager at Motimalenyora Bottle Store.

He said upon enquiry they were told by brewery management that the problem would be solved after eight weeks.

His is one of the outlets that supply the local taverns with liquor.

"I have 24 empty crates of beer bottles which means 1548 cases and no beer."

Nkosana Sosibo of Eyethu bottlestore, also in Mohlakeng, said this week was the worst ever for his business.

He only had nine cases in the store to sell.

"We have 498 empty cases of beer. The fridges are empty."

SAB spokesman, Janine van Stolk, however said there was "no critical shortage of beer".

She said glass shortages were a factor in the current constraints.

"Shifts in consumer buying patterns in the past few months, especially the absence of Amstel Lager, have added to the problem," she said.

Van Stolk said 94percent of SAB's production was sold in glass, of which 80percent was in returnable bottles.

Saint Madlala of the South African Liquor Traders Association said the SAB should have foreseen the problem.

"If you don't have a product you lose customers and chances are those people may not return," he said.

l Tavern owners in Rammulotsi township, Viljoenskroon are also without beer.

l Percy Wholesalers in Zone 7 in Seshego is among a number of beer outlets that have also been hit by the beer shortage.

More beer consumers from around Seshego also complained that they had been deprived of buying beer brands of their choice. - Mcelwa Nchabeleng