No more buying alcohol on Sundays!

Not even a bottle of wine, in a restaurant, on a wine farm? The law explained.

by: Cathy Marston | 13 Mar 2013
no alcohol

Cape Town -

Some drinkers seem to be dimly aware that there is new liquor legislation being put into place around the country at the moment, but there appears to be general confusion as to what is changing, when it will take place and – most importantly, how it will affect them.

The law is complex and multi-layered, so I spoke with Danie Cronje who is a Director of Liquor Law Services at Stellenbosch firm Cluver Markotter Inc and who has plenty to say on the subject.

Why is the law different in different areas?
Back in 2003 when the National Liquor Act was put in place, it was discovered that constitutionally, retail of liquor falls under the Province’s remit, not central government. Once this was agreed, they then realised that ‘control of undertakings’ ie how liquor is sold in terms of hours and days, is actually down to each individual municipality.

So we now have the scenario that Overstrand Municipality says alcohol can be sold 7 days a week, for the same number of hours each day, whilst Matzikama Municipality says that wineries cannot sell wine on Sundays fullstop – not even for consumption by customers in their own onsite restaurant or function venue!

Theoretically, this means that a shop on one end of a street could sell at different times and days from another one – something which is bound to confuse!

When will the changes be made?
Most of the changes have already been made, but there was a transition period during which people could choose to keep the old conditions if they are more favourable. In the City of Cape Town, that period ends next month on the 1st April 2013. Here are some of the changes that will come into effect then:

• No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption (ie to take home) on Sundays, except for wineries. In addition to high rents, this is one of the reasons given by Caroline Rillema for closing her Waterfront store, which previously was able to trade on Sundays. Green Point Ultra Liquors, Harley’s in Wale Street, Midmar in Green Point will all now close on Sundays.

• No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption after 6pm on weekdays. Anyone who previously enjoyed a tasting and shopping session at Wine Concepts, Woolies or Vino Pronto on their way home – sorry.

• No sale of more than 150 litres of alcohol to any one person unless they have a liquor licence or special permission from the Chairman of the Liquor Board. Buying for your daughter’s engagement party or your Mom’s 60th birthday? Better start limiting your guests. And even if you buy it…….

• No-one may keep more than 150 litres of wine in their home without a liquor licence. That’s 200 bottles folks. And that’s it.

• No drinking alcohol in vehicles – not even if you are sitting in the back of a minibus and have a 100% sober driver. Makes a bit of a mockery of responsible people having a designated driver doesn’t it?

• No drinking at school functions ever. This applies even if the function is held away from school grounds and on a licenced premises - if it is the school organising the function, they are breaking the law.

From the beginning of next month, there is every chance that many of us will be breaking the law, even if we think we are doing the ‘right thing’ - as Danie puts it 'these changes are making criminals out of ordinary people.'

Of course, some exemptions may be possible and Danie and his company are busy applying for many on behalf of their clients. Check out the article next week for reasons why these changes are being made, what bloopers have been suggested during the process and whether these bylaws will really make the difference for which legislators are hoping.

If you have any questions on the new law and how it may affect you or your business, Danie Cronje can be consulted at Cluver Markotter Inc on 021 808 5642 or email him on 

Read more on: wine  |  cathy marston  |  liquor law  |  south africa

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