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More changes to SA liquor laws?

Government publishes unconstitutional regulations.

by: Cathy Marston | 23 Jan 2014
liquor licence

Whilst most people were away enjoying their summer holiday break over Christmas and New Year, the government were still busy. What were they doing?


Publishing unconstitutional regulations, inoperable norms and standards and once again attempting to over-ride provincial right to decide how liquor will be sold.

According to liquor law specialist Danie Cronje of Cluver Markotter, the national government is only allowed to legislate on large-scale alcohol industries – businesses such as SAB or wineries manufacturing over 4 million litres a year.

But one set of draft regulations (put into effect because no-one was around to object to it) concerned the African Cup of Nations tournament which saw hours limited and retailers paying large licence fees – both measures completely against the constitutional ruling which says the government has no jurisdiction over either because it’s up to each individual province to decide.

On the 4th December, the Department of Trade & Industry published draft regulations on norms and standards relating to liquor industries. In it, the government again attempts to legislate on matters outside its jurisdiction ie, how and when alcohol can be sold.

The draft regulations will apply to ALL liquor licences, new and existing and include such measures as:

•    All premises with a liquor licence must make condoms freely available at all times
•    All licenced premises must have a safe available for storing their customers dangerous weapons
•    All licenced retail outlets for off-consumption  will be able to trade 9am-8pm, Monday – Saturday.
•    There will be no off-sales on Sundays or public holidays and there is no provision for any exceptions whatsoever.
•    Proposed policy to be debated – that the drinking age be raised to 21.
•    Proposed policy to be debated – that the sale of liquor to obviously-pregnant women be prohibited.

Quite apart from the interesting and almost entertaining aspects of the proposed policies, the main issue here is that the government is exceeding their constitutional jurisdiction in attempting to legislate on these matters.

The Constitutional Court ruling of 1999 specifically declared that how alcohol is sold is a provincial matter, so this move is unconstitutional according to Danie.

Sneaking it in whilst the country enjoys a drink or two over the holidays seems to be a deliberate attempt to circumvent the law and pass the measures without objections.

Comments were closed on 3rd January so if you don’t like the sound of this – sorry, you’re too late to do anything about it.

Bad news for Cape Town wineries and retailers

Whilst the government has been getting above itself, the City of Cape Town is adding in some new regulations of its own. After relaxing the laws about off-licences trading on Sundays, they drafted legislation which comes into effect on 1st February.

This says that anyone who wants to sell alcohol for off-consumption on Sundays – including wineries for the first time – must now apply to do so.

What does this mean?
That every off-licence, and now every winery which comes under the City of Cape Town’s jurisdiction and which currently sells on Sundays, will have to apply again to be able to continue to do so.

This includes the Constantia wineries, those in some areas of Durbanville and Tygerberg, those in Somerset West and several ones situated on the R44 on the way to Stellenbosch.

It seems likely that businesses which already had dispensation to sell (such as wineries and retailers such as Harleys, Vaughan Johnson, Ultra Liquors in Green Point) will be allowed to continue doing so whilst their applications are considered, but it doesn’t specifically say so. Get those applications in quickly folks!

For more information contact Danie Cronje at Cluver Markotter on


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