A lot of readers landed on the blog about alcohol trading allowed on Sundays in Knysna but few of you went to the more important article which is the actual trading hours. Lowlights would be that bars are allowed to open from 7.30am 7 days per week and that liquor stores are now permitted Sunday trading.
This is a radical step and seemingly unjustified by Mayor Georlene Wolmarans’ assertion that this will be good for our tourism industry. Reality is that tourists are seasonal and an absolute minority out of season (when they are vastly outnumbered by local alcoholics). Knysna has a BIG alcohol abuse problem. Most of us, including me, have been drunk on occasion but for many it is a start and end to their day. Saturdays and Sundays are particularly virulent and violent. Mondays sometimes require regmaaker so that workers can cope with working.
When it comes to alcohol, the Western Cape “proudly” holds the records:
- The highest lifetime prevalence of substance use disorders in South Africa.
- The highest lifetime prevalence amongst men (over the age of 15) in SA.
- The highest lifetime prevalence amongst women (over the age of 15) in SA.
- The highest alcohol-related traumatic injuries in SA.
- One of the highest rates of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world (20 to 80 times higher than different states in the USA)..
Research has shown that the biggest problems with alcohol abuse lie with the Coloured community. In Knysna, they are the largest population demographic. Anyone living here will know that i’m not being racist when i state that they, especially the men, present a major problem for Knysna whether as workers or the highest unemployment statistic. Do not twist my words into a generality. There are obviously upstanding and outstanding coloured men in Knysna too. I’ve spoken to some and they agree.
How did the Knysna Municipality and the councillors make such a bizarre decision. On whose behalf did they make it? Certainly wasn’t ours as everyone i spoke to today was unaware of any consultations with the public, another oddity considering the DA majority promised us transparency when they were running for power.
What do the people in the street think? That was my question as i ran around town this morning. I expected most to not care but i was wrong (areas where they live in brackets):
Waitress (Hornlee): “It’s ridiculous. People in Hornlee are already drinking too much! Now you’re telling them that it’s ok. It’s not. Their children are going to suffer.”
Glendyrr Fick (Knysna Tourism General Manager): “Tourism continues to be the main contributor to Knysna’s local economy. We believe that the new By-Law allows establishments legally allowed to sell alcohol to do so not only to their benefit, but to the benefit of this important economic driver. We do however encourage visitors and residents alike to use alcohol responsibly and, most importantly, to never drink and drive.”
Artist: (Central) “It doesn’t affect me personally as i spend on alcohol only when i have the luxury to spare. I don’t overdo it. From a business point of view, if other businesses can be open on a Sunday then it’s only fair that all are open.”
Olde’s regular (Central): “That’s silly! The people that would be drunk by afternoon would then be drunk by morning…and then worse by afternoon.”
Counter assistant (Concordia): “It’s really bad. They should respect Sunday. I’d rather people start going to church instead. Nothing will improve if they open the taverns on Sunday. It will only get worse.”
Restaurant manager (Central): “We’re having a meeting about it today but i don’t see it affecting our restaurant much. Our operating licence hours are determined provincially. Doesn’t that supersede municipal law?”
Cleaner (Dam-se-Bos): “It’s a bad thing. Already the taverns are open illegally. My brothers go drinking before work. One day, their boss comes to pick them up and he makes them wait so he can drink before work.”
A pharmacy owner (Central): “It’s stupid. Already, on Mondays, i see people walking to work, down the hill from Hornlee, carrying what’s left of their papsak so that that will get them through their day.”
Taxi Driver (Hornlee): “It’s not a good thing. Most of our people spend their money in the bars already. This will only increase addiction and other problems. They should be closing the bars, not opening them. They’re removing our culture.”
What do you think, Knysna?
I have emailed Knysna Tourism and Mayor Georlene Wolmarans for clarification on this decision.
PS: this morning, Jan 21, on the Bizz Buzz programme, KnysnaFM’s station manager, Ralph Sparg, and the Knysna Chamber of Business (as represented by Dave Hendry and Craig Venter) were enthusiastic in support of the new liquor laws.