[Press release] Functions for school learners should be alcohol free

The stabbing of students at what was a gathering of school learners on Friday in Claremont highlights not only the need for stricter rules governing the awarding of special events licenses but, more importantly, making sure that school organized events are alcohol-free.

SAAPA SA calls on the Western Cape Education Department and the Western Cape Liquor Authority to investigate how a gathering of school learners are alleged to have access to large quantities of alcohol that contributed to a street brawl in which five young people were injured.

Research on interpersonal violence has consistently highlighted alcohol as a contributing factor to its occurrence. Interpersonal violence amongst men in South Africa is the 2nd leading cause of death and injuries amongst 15 to 44-year-old men. The 2018 WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health reported heavy episodic drinking in South Africa amongst 15- 19 year olds in 2016 to be 74% in the case of boys and young men, and 34% in respect of girls and young women. Alcohol is a psycho-social drug which inhibits the senses and negatively influences the ability to make rational decisions. This is exacerbated amongst young people under the age of 25 years.

SAAPA SA calls on the WC Education Department and the WC Liquor Authority not to grant liquor licenses to school events, and to withdraw the current unpopular and bizarre Education Amendment Bill which enables schools to apply for a liquor license for the purpose of raising funds. SAAPA maintains that NO liquor licenses should be awarded for events in schools or for children under 18 years old; and special event license conditions should be re-examined. The majority of learners at school are children and should be protected from the possibility of harm.

In addition, SAAPA SA calls on the Department of Trade and Industry and government to immediately adopt the proposed National Liquor Amendment Bill of 2017 which prohibits the sale of alcohol within 500m of a school or recreational facility and which establishes liquor distributor and trader liability for alcohol-related harm resulting from the sale or distribution of alcohol by the trader.

Yours sincerely

Maurice Smithers
SAAPA SA chairperson

Prof. Charles Parry
Director: Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit

Lebo Ramafoko
Executive Director
Soul City Institute for Social Justice

Dean Peacock
Executive Director
Sonke Gender Justice Network

Prof Sue Goldstein
Deputy Director

Prof. Leslie London
Head of Division: Public Health Medicine
UCT School of Public Health and Family Medicine