ALCOHOL USAGE IN PARK STREET, DURBAN
Written by: Ndumiso Nxumalo
Section 154(1)(c) of the Liquor Act 27 of 1989 provides that “a person who is drunk in or near any road, street, lane, thoroughfare, square, park or market, any ship, warehouse or public garage, shall be guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted accordingly”.
Public drinking in South Africa has been seen as somewhat a “norm”, with more people enjoying the freedom of drinking in the streets without fear of being prosecuted. However, the bylaw prohibiting drinking in public appears to be unequally enforced. In some smaller towns, you are charged for public drinking, while in other bigger cities, it is not considered a crime as such.
Park Street, in the City of Durban, is well-known to many as the street where people can be found consuming alcohol at any time of the day. The area is occupied by families and young people alike who are easily exposed to alcohol.
The by-laws which carry fines from R200 up to R40 000 are designed to ensure the municipality is kept in a condition that all residents and communities can enjoy.
Sindisiwe Majola who is a mother of two children and resides in one of the buildings on Park Street said that Metro Police are ignorant of the public drinking in the area.
“People are drinking alcohol openly in this street, breaking bottles and it is a shame because the Metro Police are not doing anything about it. We have children, and but I don’t allow them to go and play on the street as I know that there are drunks in every corner of the street from the morning till noon,” said Majola.
With Park Street being situated in the Central Business District (CBD), motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol are a familiar sight. This therefore questions the safety of other road users.
Thulani Zwane from Albert Park Metro Police Services said that with regards to the issue of drinking and driving, it is illegal. However, it is not a problem for the passengers inside the vehicle, who are being transported.
“The problem sits with the sober driver who is entrusted with taking care of his passengers while travelling,” said Zwane.
“For example, the driver needs to ensure passengers do not hang out of the moving vehicle as in this case the driver could be prosecuted. However, passengers must bear in mind that they may be charged for drinking in public in terms of national legislation,” he added.
Although the impact of alcohol consumption has been negatively displayed towards communities, some individuals, such as Rowan Matt, make a living off its sales.
“I am where I am today because of selling alcohol. Without it my children would’ve been starving to death so this business of alcohol helps me a lot in making money for my family,” said Matt.
According to psychologist Dr Michel Lebennett, when people drink alcohol, the way they drink, the culture that supports their drinking and how much they drink, increases the likelihood of them experiencing alcohol-related harm.
*Caption: Public alcohol consumption on Park Street has become a norm.