Liquor traders call for state of emergency, but Casac says better policing is the answer

Reprinted from City Press, by staff reporter – 2021-07-15
While the SA Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba) and the National Liquor Traders Council have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa urgently calling on government to declare a state of emergency to protect people and businesses in areas affected by the continuing unrest, the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) has called for better policing.On Wednesday, the liquor industry urged government to declare a state of emergency as more than 200 liquor shops had been looted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Liquor stores looted

Salba chief executive said the lack of police presence and SANDF support had resulted in hundreds of liquor stores being targeted and looted. Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

“Many of these are small and medium-sized enterprises, and are unable to protect their employees, businesses and livelihoods alone.”

He said the lack of police presence and SANDF support had resulted in hundreds of liquor stores being targeted and looted.

Millions of rands worth of stock at warehouses and retail premises across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has been stolen.

After retail stores in malls and shopping centres were ransacked, the warehouses of liquor companies and distributors became the next primary target for looting and vandalism.

“Our big concern is that the focus is now shifting to our primary production sites – breweries and distilleries – where high volumes of preproduction alcohol are stored,” said Moore.

“Any attack on these sites poses a serious safety risk for our security personnel on-site, as well as looters and surrounding communities.”

National Liquor Traders Council convenor Lucky Ntimane said the industry believed that many of the attacks were politically orchestrated and coordinated by organised crime, which aims to grow the illicit alcohol sector.

“If the destruction continues unabated, the liquor industry will reach a point of no return and more than 200 000 people will be out of work.”

Casac said it had noted with great concern several calls for the president to declare a state of emergency in response to the incidents of public violence and looting in the two provinces.

It said the calls for a state of emergency followed the failure of law enforcement to contain the situation at an early stage.

“In Casac’s view, calls for a declaration of a state of emergency are misguided at this stage as the objective conditions for such a declaration do not exist,” the organisation said in a statement.

“An elevation into a state of emergency is not a matter to be taken lightly due to a litany of unintended consequences particularly relating to the interaction between civilians and the armed forces.”

“In our view, the current violent conditions can be adequately dealt with in terms of the existing powers granted to the government by the Constitution and the law, and aided by the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.”

“Under the Constitution, a state of emergency may only be declared when ‘the life of the nation is threatened by war, invasion, general insurrection, disorder, natural disaster or other public emergency’, and where such a declaration ‘is necessary to restore peace and order’. The present situation, while serious, does not threaten the

the sovereignty of the republic or the functioning of its constitutional institutions and the relative success of law enforcement agencies to de-escalate tensions in several affected areas illustrates that peace and order can be achieved without resorting to additional emergency powers.”

“A state of emergency is an extraordinary measure which should be reserved purely for the most extreme of circumstances,” Casac said.

The council said the duty of government to protect the lives and property of its citizens existed always and could be achieved under existing law.

However, the liquor industry urged Ramaphosa to take the necessary steps to stabilise the country, mobilise the necessary resources to restore law and order in affected areas, and prevent further violence, loss of life and economic destruction.

“The latest losses exacerbate the dire economic situation that the industry finds itself in after the four successive alcohol bans over the past 16 months related to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“[This period has] decimated the liquor industry already, putting 233 547 jobs at risk and causing tax revenue losses of R34.2 billion as well as R10.2 billion in lost excise revenue,” said Salba and the National Liquor Traders Council in a statement.


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