Alcohol ban saves SA from misery

Officers destroy confiscated alcohol to enforce the national lockdown's laws, which bar drinking in public spaces./Alaister Russell
Officers destroy confiscated alcohol to enforce the national lockdown's laws, which bar drinking in public spaces./Alaister Russell

The government's total ban on the sale of alcohol during the national lockdown continues to bear positive results for hospital trauma centres and medical staff who have seen massive reductions in the number of injuries and deaths that
occur as a result of alcohol consumption abuse.

According to Dr Mduduzi Gama, a medical officer in the accident and emergency department at Addington Hospital in Durban's inner city, the total number of trauma patients they see in a 72-hour period during the lockdown is what they usually saw in a 12-hour period on a typical weekend.

"Before the announcement of the national state of disaster we had a total of 158 trauma cases, which was 47 [Friday], 50 [Saturday] and 61 [Sunday] patients respectively."

Gama said the numbers had begun to drop slightly after President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement banning mass gatherings.

But after the announcement of the initial nationwide 21-day lockdown on March 26, the hospital saw a significant reduction in numbers in the first weekend of the lockdown.

"On the weekend of April 3-5, the total was 23 patients, on the weekend of April 10 to 12 we had 39 patients, and for the weekend of April 17 to 19 our total was 25 patients."

Similar downward trends have been reported in various government hospitals.

Anesthesiologist at the Sebokeng Hospital, Dr Himmel Machava, described the ban as a "necessary evil".

"We are facing an enemy that does not discriminate between rich and poor, but
because of the living conditions of the poor and the reality that South Africa has the highest HIV pandemic in the world [which means a vulnerable immune system], the poor are at the greatest risk. The ban is therefore a necessary evil as it were. If people can stay at home as instructed, we will defeat this enemy, and the ban will be lifted," he said.

Meanwhile, police minister Bheki Cele, addressing journalists in Durban yesterday, said the ban of alcohol during lockdown has led to a major decline in violent crimes.

Comparing stats between March and April 2019 with the same period this year, Cele said murder was down by 72% with 1,542 cases recorded in 2019 compared with 432 this year. Rape was down 87.2% with 2,908 rapes in 2019 compared with 371.

Assault GBH was down 85.2% with 11,876 cases recorded in 2019 compared with 1,758. Attempted murder was down 65.9% with 443 cases recorded under lockdown compared with 1,300 last year. - additional reporting by Orrin Singh

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.