The South African alcohol industry was initially taken aback when the government imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol during the coronavirus crisis. This ban has had a significant impact on the South African beer market, with many people turning to homemade brewing as an alternative. The ban has also had a positive effect on public health, with fewer admissions to trauma units being attributed to alcohol consumption. However, there are concerns that the ban could lead to an increase in criminal activity, as well as frustration for millions of thirsty South African beer drinkers.
The South African Medical Research Council has been modeling the extent to which alcohol prohibition has been responsible for the decline in admissions to trauma units. Thuli Madonsela, a law professor and former public protector from South Africa, has argued that the government has not effectively argued why the entire country should suffer from the ban when the coronavirus outbreak has only hit certain pockets. Gareth Newham, a crime expert at the South African Institute for Security Studies, has also expressed his concern about the ban, stating that it could lead to an increase in criminal activity. This is especially true in light of the fact that criminals already control a lucrative part of South Africa's tobacco industry.
The official opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is in favor of a smart lockdown model that allows people to buy alcohol for a few hours each day. However, it remains to be seen how this could be enforced for five weeks or longer if the shutdown of South Africa is prolonged once again. In response to the ban, a homemade brewing craze has spread across South Africa. Videos and recipes for pineapple beer and the more traditional corn and sorghum known as umqombothi are being widely promoted on social media, along with warnings that such drinks, if prepared incorrectly, could prove dangerous.
It is clear that South Africa's alcohol ban has had a significant impact on both public health and the South African beer market. While it may have had some positive effects, there are also concerns that it could lead to an increase in criminal activity and frustration for millions of thirsty South African beer drinkers.