Bapela clarifies comments on alcohol abuse measures

FILE PICTURE: Deputy minister in the Presidency Obed Bapela. Picture: Neil McCartney.

Government’s review of the legal age to consume alcohol is nothing new, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Obed Bapela, said on Wednesday.

Bapela was responding to media reports citing the liquor industry’s opposition to the proposal which could see the age limit for consuming alcohol raised from 18 to 21.

In October, Bapela told parents of children recovering from alcohol abuse in Kimberley that the debate to raise the age limit remained “under discussion”.

The liquor industry responded this week, saying raising the age limit would not affect alcohol consumption patterns.

“The deputy minister was merely accentuating the discussions that are in the public domain and encouraged communities to make their comment at the discussion process currently undertaken by social development as part of the inter-ministerial consultation process,” Bapela’s spokesman Sifiso Ngcobo said on Wednesday.

The review was part of a range of measures by government to reduce alcohol abuse. Another measure was the pending introduction of legislation to ban alcohol advertising.

The draft Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill would probably be introduced in Parliament next year.

“The bill, together with other measures, such as reviewing the legal age to consume alcohol, the introduction of a zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and education campaigns against alcohol-related harm in schools, among others, plays an important role in combating alcohol-related injury,” Ngcobo said.

The proposed law is also being opposed by the liquor industry, which says it will not have any impact on alcohol abuse.


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